New Report: “Toolbelt Generation” Opts for Community Colleges/ Vocational Schools

community colleges

A recent study by New America reveals that for the new generation of high school graduates, college isn’t what it used to be. According to the most recent data, 66% of those surveyed said that getting a job with just a high school diploma or GED is feasible. That’s compared to just 50% in 2018.  

When asked the question, “How much do you agree or disagree that there are lots of well-paying, stable jobs that people can find with only a high school diploma or GED?”, only 10% said they strongly disagreed compared to nearly 30% five years ago.

What’s behind this shift in opinion regarding college worth? Perhaps it’s optimistic thinking spurred by the reality of soaring tuition costs. When students simply can’t afford to attend a university, other options may begin looking like better ones.

Data from the National Student Clearinghouse confirms that students are indeed looking for alternatives to a four-year degree. Community college and vocational school enrollment are up 16% since 2022.

Related: Top Online Community Colleges 2024

The looming threat of artificial intelligence may also play a role in the trend toward blue-collar jobs. Mike Rowe, host of the television show How America Works says young people may be seeing the trades as safer options compared to white-collar jobs that could be replaced with AI: “Look, plumbers are not going to be outsourced. Electricians, steam fitters, pipe fitters … they have a level of job security”.

Last summer, McKinsey Global Institute warned that 30% of job hours in today’s economy could be replaced by artificial intelligence by the year 2030. With projections like this, it’s not hard to see why young people today may be ditching the office for the hardhat.