A common debate popping up begins with, “Is college worth it?”
Much of the recent controversy has stemmed from the high cost of higher education. The high cost of college today just keeps increasing, yet the price paidhas little correlation to a person’s chances of securing a job. This correlation however should not be confused with the concept that the more educated a person is, the better the chances the person has of securing a job. Time and time again, education correlating to greater chances of employment is proven with the increase in unemployment rates corresponding to the less education one has. Employers like to hire educated workers, period.
In the U.S., if you look at the unemployment for students with new Bachelor’s degrees at notice it’s at an incredible 8.9 percent. When you scale out however, it’s a catastrophic 22.9 percent for job seekers with a recent high school diploma—and an almost unthinkable 31.5 percent for recent high school dropouts, according to Georgetown University’s Hard Times Report.
So, while the cost of a higher education doesn’t correlate to employment, the fact of a degree does correlate to employment. According to The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, between 2008 and 2018, demand for college educated workers will rise by 16 percent while demand for other workers will stay flat. It’s becoming even more important for workers to be educated in order to tackle the jobs that are available.
The focus therefore for job stakeholders – both the seekers and providers of jobs – should be on the provision of affordable and attainable quality higher education. A lifetime of being broke over a college decision to take out a loan has tremendous repercussions when multiplied by millions on the economic health of the society and the ability for individuals to invest back into the society with the weight of extraordinary debt burdens. Yet what are the unemployed and undereducated to do to educate themselves but to take out education loans since they have limited to no financial resources in their current situations?
There are more than 20 million Americans currently unemployed or underemployed. Sadly, there are also 3.4 million jobs available and just sitting open, unfilled, because job seekers lack the necessary skills. Whose responsibility is it exactly to invest in the skills and education of the currently unemployed, whom are the future labor force?
A new trend emerging is corporate involvement in affordable education for the unemployed as well as individuals who can’t afford tuition rates. To stay lucrative, corporations need skilled and educated workers, who as individuals, are able to go back and contribute to the economic cycle when they have jobs and salaries. Corporations providing education for the masses in order to choose their next worker populations from this educated pool of individuals is an incredibly optimistic and a win-win situation for everyone.
It is shockingly inexpensive now-a-days for a corporation to invest in its future workforce. University of the People (UoPeople), a non-profit, tuition-free university, is structured to open the gates to higher education for all. The institution charges a one-time application ($50) and subsequent assessment fees for each end of course assessment ($100) to students. There are no other fees whatsoever. The entire cost of a bachelor’s is $4000 per person. That’s it. The University provides quality education, small classrooms of about 20 – 30 students, and heightened exposure to diversity via students hailing from around the globe. Students graduate with degrees in Computer Science and Business Administration – skills employers need.
Hewlett-Packard, understanding the importance of investing in both human capital and technology, donated $200,000 to sponsor 100 women to attain Associate degrees in either Business Administration or Computer Science with University of the People. Others are following suit.
The vision of University of the People to democratize higher education is in alignment with the vision of enlightened corporations who understand the future is in both an educated workforce and a consumer population that is not held down in debt. Hewlett-Packard is among the first of many corporations joining a new and growing model of corporate involvement in the affordable education of citizens.