Education Secretary Betsy Devos is calling for a “major shift” in higher education from its emphasis on traditional four-year degrees. At the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council gathering, Devos stressed the importance of apprenticeship programs to fill jobs. She said, “For decades now, we have given the subtle, or not so subtle, message that the only path for a successful life is a four-year degree.” Devos continued with, “We have to give students a much wider venue of opportunities starting in high school and middle school to help guide them into a productive future.”
The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council was held in Washington D.C. last week, and Secretary Devos concentrated on the importance of local businesses and companies working with community colleges and local schools. Devos also argued for change in the curriculum of schools to better reflect the needs of businesses and “real world” jobs saying, “We need to expand our thinking on what apprenticeships actually look like…we need to start treating students as individuals, not boxing them in.”
Devos’ remarks come a day after officials from four major companies—IBM, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Lincoln Electric—met with the Department of Labor and the American Association of Community Colleges to set up a task force and discuss the future expansion of apprenticeship programs within higher education. The Department of Labor’s Ondray Harris said, “Apprenticeships are a way to close that skills gap—to earn and learn. I think it’s a natural fit for community colleges.” In order to facilitate the expansion of apprenticeship programs, the DOL has set up a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the AACC to work closer with community colleges and grow apprenticeship programs. Regarding the upcoming Memorandum, the director of the DOL’s Office of Apprenticeship John Ladd said “It’s the absolute next step in the evolution of this partnership.”
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