College Degree or Nothing? Not anymore!

Many of us grew up during a time where the notion of going to college was not only expected but was halfway shoved down our throats. Teachers, parents and even our peers were constantly talking about having a college degree was the only way to secure a stable and lucrative career. Many of us fed into this ideal resulting in thousands of dollars of student loan debt and leaving us wondering what was it all for. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are certainly specialized professions and positions that do require college degrees but that doesn’t mean that the college route is for everyone. For those of you that may have a passion for the medical industry, or a variety of engineering disciplines, college may still be the route to take. However, times are, in fact, changing and prospective job seekers have a wide variety of options available!

In today’s job market, it seems that every time the topic of labor shortages come up, the lack of skilled workers for trade positions in construction and in the manufacturing realm are in the forefront. Less and less students have been deciding that even if they are unsure what career path they want to go down, college is their only avenue. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 68% of high school students go to college with 40% never completing their degree. This is leaving highly paid and stable positions across the construction and manufacturing industries empty. Ultimately, we are left with the realization that the Baby Boomers who thrived with careers in these industries are starting to retire with no one to fill their shoes.

As I’ve mentioned before, the conversation regarding career options needs to start early! The idea of college being an end all beat all for post high school students needs to stop. Outside of the traditional 4-year degree, students have a variety of options available including vocational schools, trade specific training programs, online classes and even simply starting from the ground up. Sometimes the best way to learn a new trade is to start as entry-level as possible, observing those around you and gaining true on the job experience. But, don’t take my word for it. Educational leaders and even some of the nation’s most well known and profitable companies are jumping on board. David McGrath, an English Professor at the College of DuPage recently wrote an article regarding this very issue.

“We need to debunk the inference made by parents that vocational and technical jobs are inferior. Such a notion has led many of them to steer youngsters unwilling or unsuited for academic study into frustration, failure and depression. A campaign of public relations, parental education and cash is needed to combat the stigma.”

-David McGrath

Last spring, compiled a list of top employers that are expanding their talent pool by looking beyond the 4-year degree. Google, Apple, and IBM are all included in this progressive strategy in an attempt to bring in qualified and eager job seekers. In fact, Joanna Daley, IBM’s Vice President of Talent told CNBC that about 15% of IBM’s hires in the US do not have a college degree. IBM makes a point to include candidates with hands-on experience through coding boot-camps or even vocational classes.

The conversation needs to start now, whether that starts with school counselors or parents at home with their kids. We need to get rid of the stigma behind not going to college and provide our students with the support and proper education on available alternatives. Bottom line, college is not the answer for everyone and that is something worth shouting from the rooftops.

The Trillium brand of companies is privately owned by René Poch and provides more than 30 years of industry leading recruitment and staffing services through its divisions including: Trillium Staffing, Trillium Construction Services, Trillium Driver Solutions, Trillium Marine, Trillium Technical, Trillium Environmental, Trillium Hospitality and Trillium Techs. With approximately 98 offices nationwide and nearly 400 internal recruitment professionals, the Trillium brand is proud to be recognized by Staffing Industry Analysts as a Top 25 Largest Industrial Staffing Firm in the U.S., a Top 100 Largest Staffing Firm in the U.S., a Top 100 Fastest Growing Staffing Firm in the U.S., and a winner of National Best and Brightest Companies to Work For. For more information please visit

Author Bio

Carmen Hoover

Carmen Hoover has written 114 post(s) for Trillium Staffing.

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