The Path Less Taken: Barriers to Providing Career and Technical Education at Community Colleges

This report produced by Diane Auer Jones for the American Enterprise Institute, provides discussion on the type of post-secondary degree programs perceptions and significance to earnings. Findings include:

-The earnings associated with post-secondary education vary significantly based on one’s major and career path, among other things.

-Some certificate and associate degree programs in technical and allied health fields at community colleges can result in higher earnings than some bachelor’s degree programs.

-Despite evidence that vocational sub-baccalaureate certificates and degrees have a relatively high payoff, liberal arts and general studies programs have experienced the most rapid growth in community college enrollments and credentials. This may partially explain the mismatch between graduates’ skills and the skills employers demand.

-Community colleges face tremendous structural and policy barriers when trying to create new or expand existing vocational programs, including funding allocation formulas, accreditation requirements, federal regulations, transfer-of-credit policies, and stigmatization of occupational and vocational programs.


Apprenticeship and Work-Based Learning, Solutions for a Stronger Economy

America’s most famous youth apprentice, Ben Franklin (a printer’s apprentice at age 12), reputedly described the basic learning process of apprenticeship this way: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” This aphorism fits 19-year-old New Orleanian Da’Jonae Curtis. Although she was valedictorian of her high school class in 2016, she had no interest in post-secondary education: “I knew that I didn’t want to go to school—I was just done with school.” Instead, Da’Jonae found Earn and Learn and is about to complete her job placement with Tulane’s HVAC department. “I was kind of skeptical [of HVAC work] at first. It was something I never thought about doing,” she says. But after almost eight months on the job, Da’Jonae is proud of the certifications she’s earned and looking forward to an externship. Da’Jonae describes what she likes about work-based learning: I like that it’s very hands on.


More Cars and Fewer People to Fix Them

It's a concern shared by most of the nation's roughly 16,700 new car dealerships whose profits are increasingly reliant on servicing the vehicles they sell, and less reliant on profits from the sales of the vehicles themselves. Dealerships are sacrificing margin on sales in favor of putting more cars on the road. More cars on the road lead to more cars in the service bays, and that means more qualified mechanics are needed.

New car dealerships sold a record 17.5 million new cars in 2016, as well as nearly 15 million used cars: 37 percent of the total of all used cars sold.

Service, parts and body shop activity accounted for 47.3 percent of the average dealership's gross profits in 2016, according to a study by the National Automobile Dealers Association, up from the 45.4 percent the previous year.