Page 8 - Georgia Forestry - Spring 2020
P. 8

By Brady Hummel
 Filling the
  Technical College Programs Training Forestry’s Future
 The 21st-century workplace is innovating quickly and contin- uously, demanding employers and employees be prepared for a future that we cannot yet predict.
Two things will always hold true, regardless of how that future unfolds: we will continue to need a diverse workforce, and we will continue to need to train that workforce to fill the demand for labor.
Since the G.I. Bill was passed in 1944, pro- viding returning World War II veterans, among other things, tuition support to help them secure higher education, getting a bachelor’s degree has been lauded as a stepping stone on the path to the American Dream and its promise of prosperity. “As a society, we continue to push ever larger numbers of students into ever higher levels of education,”1 wrote Bryan Caplan, an econom- ics professor at George Mason University, in an article for The Atlantic.
That college-for-all philosophy, though, has shown cracks in recent years. As the cost of a four- year degree continues to increase, the potential return on that investment is becoming more dif- ficult for many to justify. According to the Federal Reserve’s most recent available data from 2019,
U.S. consumers owe a collective $1.6 trillion in outstanding student debt.2 And an estimated 40 percent of recent college graduates are under- employed, working in jobs that are misaligned to their skillset.3
Yet, the majority of jobs in many industries — including forestry — do not require a bachelor’s degree. A joint report by Deloitte and The Man- ufacturing Institute states that “while the job gains are positive indications that industry con- tinues to recover from the Great Recession and reflect strong production levels, it also means that finding talent with the right skills to fill the open
of recent college graduates are underemployed

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