Updated: Feb 20, 2020
In San Antonio, Texas and the rest of the United States industry tells communities and colleges they need a 'better prepared' workforce. Indeed, the Rivard Report, a local online newspaper, reported last summer wrote the city is not ready to host high-tech, high paying jobs. It's getting better but not fast enough to keep up with the demand and cyber-security, although a good example of an IT-type field, is not the definition of an IT job. Rather, it is one type of area within the rapidly, ever-changing Information Technology industry sector.
So, why do we not have the workforce with the skill sets needed for industry to not only pay a living wage but a decent, non-service oriented job? San Antonio, Texas, is blessed with a combined total of 10 colleges when you count the five community colleges under the Alamo Colleges (Northeast Lakeview College, Palo Alto College, St. Philip's College and San Antonio College). Texas A&M, San Antonio and University of Texas-San Antonio, as well as three private universities, Trinity University, Our Lady of the Lake University, and the University of the Incarnate Word make up the other five. Again, so it would make sense we, as a community filled with a plethora of institutions of higher education systems would be able to educate according to the skill sets industry needs to hire for good-paying jobs in a city continually cited for being poor. Why then is this not the case?
Old Systems, New Times
In my personal opinion, this is a three-fold issue: (1) lack of onsite wage-earning, experiential learning in high school; (2) the majority of the city is economically segregated and to undo centuries of wrong takes as much time to repair; and, (3) outdated institutional leadership (e.g. Texas Education Agency) inadvertently creates a difficult pathway to get a student any experience aligned with their passion, career pathway, or even to explore careers. We as a community can and should work on bridging this gap. Let us not rely on governmental and/or industry systems to lead our communities.
Similar Story, Different City
A recent article published on cnbc.com explores how 50% of undergrads aren't earning a bachelor's! That's right, they're entering college but not earring a bachelor's. So what are they earning?
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found students are earning about an equal proportion of associate degrees versus bachelor degrees (41.4% and 46.7% respectively). Why is this? Because the market and workforce no longer necessarily require bachelor's degrees to obtain a decent job and technical skills are needed to fill a lot of newly-created jobs. Understandably, I do think a research scientist studying climate change, for example, and a medical doctor should require more than a bachelor's education but that is not the case for all. Additionally, I for one am happy about this new predicament the '4th Industrial Revolution' is bringing to the surface. As a first generation students who still carries student loan debt and is not receiving the ROI for my 7-year college attendance, I completely empathize with fellow parents and upcoming high school graduates worried about incurring debt that will negatively impact the rest of their lives.
Examples of certificate and associate degrees where a student can expect to earn a starting pay of $40k include engineering technology, sonography or computer networking. Reread that sentence again and think about it for a little bit whether you have children, live in a community where I hope you want an educated workforce or are wondering what the workforce education landscape looks like in 'Tejas' and across the United States.