Utah’s Applied Technology Colleges (ATCs) prepare people for great careers. The ATCs provide short-term instruction (weeks or months) in fields where employers are begging for skilled workers, and in many cases where employers are paying big bucks for those skilled workers.
ATC programs focus on careers that are booming. If students in a particular program don’t find work, that program is shut down, and the resources are reallocated to programs that are leading to actual jobs. As a result of the marketplace focus, ATC students are quickly snatched up by employers.
The economic reality is that more Utahns should go to the ATCs than to college. Let me explain it by the numbers.
One. ATC students complete their programs, get jobs and start careers.
Two. Only 1 out of every 3 students who start public college in Utah graduates.
Three. College graduates often cannot find jobs. In fact, many Utahns finish college, can’t secure a good job, go to an ATC to get specialized training, and, then, enjoy great careers.
Four. Half of all college graduates who do find a job, find a job that doesn’t require a college degree.
Five. Many college graduates with jobs don’t earn enough to pay off loans they took out to get the degrees they didn’t need to get the jobs they have.
Economically, college can be a good bet, if—if, if, if—students are academically prepared (data shows that unprepared students have slim chances of earning a degree), if they don’t go deeply into debt, and if they get a degree that is relevant to the marketplace. Remember, 2/3 of Utah college enrollees don’t earn a degree; of the 1/3 that do earn a degree, it does not help them find a job half the time.
I want my kids to go to college, because I think they will be adequately prepared so that they likely will complete degrees that are relevant to the marketplace. (There are other very important reasons also, but, without the degree, college is an overly expensive way to develop and round a person). Additionally, I want my kids to receive technical training, so that they will have marketable, applied skills.
We have harmed a generation by loosely giving the guidance to “go to college.” While “post-secondary education” is more important than ever, modern economic realities no longer reward the “go to college” vagueness. The best guidance is to “get the post-secondary education that best fits your interests, preparation, financial situation, and the marketplace realities”, and start getting it as early as possible.
For many Utahns, these factors suggest that they’d be best off by starting a program at their local ATC. Also, FYI, should the student decide to then pursue an associate or bachelor degree, in many cases the work of an ATC student converts to college credit.