Mr. Brown did not receive a traditional four-year degree, however, or even a traditional two-year degree. He went through an apprenticeship-style program in Kentucky. New research suggests that it is paying big for graduates, who typically earn around six figures within five years of graduation.
Mr. Brown, who dropped out of high school, now earns $ 72,000 a year to maintain and repair machinery for an aluminum factory in Russellville, Ky. “I wanted to show my children anything possible if you want it and try hard enough,” the 41-year-old father of two.
The program, the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education, began as an experiment in 2010 among several companies, including Toyota Motor Of Corp.
The Georgetown, Ky., Factory that was having trouble finding “medium-skill” workers to operate the new technology. Add programs to employers of community colleges. Today, about 400 employers in 13 states participate.
The study, released Monday by Opportunities America and Brookings Institution, Washington-based think tanks, contributes to an in-depth debate on how best education can boost income mobility.
To date, the conventional wisdom is that a four-year degree is required for higher salaries. To be sure, the “college premium” remains near all-time highs: Workers with graduation earned an average of $ 78,000 in recent years, according to the Federal Reserve only for those with high school diplomas Compared to $ 45,000. Bank of New York.
But many college graduates do not receive a payment. According to the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank, the lowest 25% of earners with a four-year degree earned less than the top 25% in recent years with only one high-school diploma.
“If you can do a BA in the right major, that’s a great ticket,” said Tamar Jacobi, opportunity America major and FAME study co-author. She said that a higher share of community-college students is for a bachelor’s degree, but does not get one.
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Apprenticeships have long offered a route to high-paying work for high-school graduates, but historically has been reserved for skilled trades such as plumbers, carpenters and electricians. But research on apprenticeships based on community colleges is limited. Schools have been slow to offer such programs, the conservative American Enterprise Institute reported in 2018, because of the lack of cost and proximity to employers offering such programs.
MPs from both parties have supported the apprenticeships. President Trump has sought to expand apprenticeships to new industries beyond construction and the military. For example, officials of the Department of Labor have deferred the idea of apprenticeship in the health care sector.
FAME students mix well with new high-school grades and old factory workers well into their careers – usually two days a week in class and three days on the factory floor, earning part-time salaries. . They learn to maintain and repair machinery; Traditional subjects such as English, Mathematics and Philosophy; And soft skills such as work skills and teamwork. After earning an associate’s degree, most factories worked full-time to sponsor them.
The study tracked 389 students who started a FAME program between 2010 and Fall 2016, and compared them with students in similar schools of the same age and educational background. One year after graduation, the typical FAME graduate earned $ 59,164, compared to $ 36,379 for non-FAME graduates. In five years, FAME graduates earned $ 98,000, compared to $ 52,783 for non-FAME graduates.
FAME graduates have what may be called “gray-collar” jobs, which include both traditional blue-collar manual labor and critical thinking and communication, typically associated with four-year degrees.
After a steady decline between 1979 and 2010, manufacturing employment rose 1.3 million in the subsequent decade, before the epidemic-induced recession, and in the process many employers found significant skills in short supply. James McKelin said the most in-demand middle skills are the provost of the Southeastern Kentucky Community and Technical College at Famous School Boling Green.
“Because the machines have become so sophisticated and because the margins are so thin, companies are looking for people who can do all the work we give them,” Mr. Macaslin said.
The FAME program typically consists of five semesters or two years. To enroll, students must interview with employers, who consider previous grades, standardized tests, and condemnations. FAME graduates are a select group: Half of FAME graduates reported that their grades were in the top third of their high-school class.
Mr. Brown and two brothers were raised in poverty by a mother in Kentucky. After his 15-year-old brother died in a car accident, Mr. Brown expelled his mother from school for working in fast food to help with bills. He spent his 20th driving a commercial truck, with long hours and modest pay. For his 32nd birthday, he received his GED diploma. He worked in Logan, operating machinery on the factory floor.
His employer paid him three years ago to participate in the FAME program at Southern Kentucky Community and Technical College. After earning an associate’s degree in advanced manufacturing, he now earns $ 32 an hour as an advanced manufacturing technician, checking and repairing machinery for problems. If you recently drank a can of soda or beer, there is a big chance that Mr. Brown fixed the aluminum cutting machine in your hand.
On a recent day, they circled to check the wiring for any cracks, gear boxes for overheating, and whether any parts needed to be greased. Such maintenance helps to ensure that the machine does not break while running, saving thousands of dollars.
James Atkinson, who oversees the FAME apprenticeship at Kentucky-based GE Appliances, said people feared in the 1980s that automation would end all their jobs. Now, “We need people who can work on those robotics. Sometimes this can mean that you are going to lose three, four, five assemblers, but you can get two maintenance workers who are high skilled who are making more money to run those machines. ”
Write Josh Mitchell at [email protected]
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