The perception that attending a four-year college or university will lead to greater job security and pay, increased social mobility and financial prosperity is a deeply entrenched belief in American culture.
Unfortunately, this perception does not match the reality of today’s economy, which has become highly technical and knowledge-based. Each year, an estimated two-thirds of high school graduates will enroll in a four-year university and, of that group, only 25 percent will complete a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Department of Education and the National Center for Education Statistics.
Four-year degrees are still highly valued, but not every degree is designed to prepare you for the employment options available or the most sought-after skills Iowa employers are looking for – the middle skills. Middle-skill occupations are in demand in nearly every employment area, such as advanced manufacturing, healthcare and information technology, and you can qualify for these high-demand, high-paying jobs by earning a certificate, diploma or degree at Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC).
Four-year degrees do not always live up to the hype. If you know an art history, drama or philosophy major depending on an hourly wage in retail or service industry to earn a living, you are seeing the reality of today’s employment market. Many of these highly trained and educated graduates are underemployed in relation to their educational preparation. Their degrees are not providing a solid return for their time and financial investment.
According to a 2010 Harvard University Graduate School of Education study, by 2018 only 33 percent of all jobs in the U.S. will require a four-year degree or more, and 57 percent of jobs will require an associate’s degree earned at a two-year community college, such as NICC. Education leaders and researchers are expressing this phenomenon of the employment market by using three numbers – 1, 2, 7. For every one professional job that is acquired by earning a master’s degree or higher, there are two jobs that require at least a bachelor’s degree and an estimated seven jobs in America that require prospective employees to have earned a one-year certificate or diploma or two-year degree!
Graduates who possess middle skills comprise that proportional seven jobs in America, so you may not necessarily need to complete a full four years of college to find a rewarding career that pays well, offers benefits and stability, and leads to opportunities to advance your education and training.
Moreover, available middle-skills positions in Iowa outnumber college graduates who qualify for these jobs. So, who are these middle-skill professionals? You know them and depend upon their services every day in your community. NICC graduates are nurses, police officers, accountants and tax preparers, carpenters, machinists, paramedics and business owners, to name just a few.
A popular video on YouTube, “Success in the New Economy,” has earned more than 93,000 views and is garnering praise from educators and policy makers for its no-nonsense explanation of employment trends and the role of community colleges in preparing our future workforce.
“Success in the new economy is as much about acquiring the knowledge, skills and abilities needed for in-demand occupations as it is be well-educated,” explained the video’s creator, Kevin Fleming, Ph.D., an expert in education management. “Education combined with technical training is how you ultimately secure a competitive advantage in the new economy … in the new economy, both education and technical skills are the new currency.”
NICC is the place to develop your knowledge, skills and abilities for a family-sustaining career that offers opportunities for advancement. NICC graduates can also transfer to a four-year institution after earning their associate’s degree without accumulating staggering student loan debt.
As an NICC graduate, you are in demand in the new economy! Complete the education and training you need to compete in the workforce by earning one or more certificate, diploma and degree options offered at NICC.
It’s Your Future. Take the Lead. www.nicc.edu/academics!