Economics Employment

Let’s appreciate skilled workers more

Originally posted December 2, 2017.
As both the House and Senate seem to be working toward a tax reform bill, there have been many criticisms about the bill.
One of the many ridiculous and false claims is that it will destroy graduate education. This claim is made by an author of a Forbes article entitled: “The GOP Tax Plan Will Destroy Graduate Education.”
Using the work “destroy” in the headline is a bit ridiculous. Graduate education won’t go away completely. But I understand the headline “The GOP Tax Plan Might Curb Slightly the Number of Graduate Students” wouldn’t have nearly as catchy a title.
Several studies by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that our economy is over-saturated with the number of people with bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees. There are exceptions, such as those in STEM programs (and the author of the column references STEM). For example, we certainly have a shortage of good engineers. So although there are very good jobs out there for some graduate students, unfortunately there are many students that are needlessly wasting money.
So we need to be careful not to subsidize an area in which we are over-saturated.
At this point, one of the greatest needs in our country is for skilled workers or laborers.
We haven’t adequately valued skilled workers such as welders, carpenters, metal fabricators, HVAC workers, and so on. While we have put graduate students on a pedestal, we have not adequately appreciated these types of workers. We have a shortage of them, and although we take them for granted, we all benefit from the services they offer and the products they make.
So what would be a good way to solve the problem? How can we deal with the cost of rising tuition and the shortage of skilled workers at the same time? One good way would be to spend less time subsidizing college education and to help companies that produce more of these skilled workers.
Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin made a good point when he talked about how the tax bill needs to focus more on helping locally owned businesses like manufacturers or distributors. These types of companies are often the ones that hire unskilled workers, find people who are willing to work hard, and then train them and help them develop their skills.
Sometimes these companies work alongside a local community college or other trade organization to develop their skills. That’s often the best education someone can receive, and the great part is that they get to be paid while learning!
That is why offering incentives for companies to hire more workers is a better plan than subsidizing higher education.

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