Higher education is living in an imaginary world that once was but is fading before our eyes. The driving criteria for success in higher education is degree completion. If students do not complete a degree, or certificate of some kind, that is failure. Funding will be cut by the board or by the state legislature for state university systems.
Enrollments are down. Fewer and fewer students come back the second or third semester. Community colleges have taken to sending certificates and even Associate of Arts degrees to students who have moved on but didn’t bother to file for award of certificates that they were qualified to have. In some cases it is hard to even give these things away.
Does this suggest that something is wrong?
Here you have addressed the issue from the workforce side. The need to fill skilled positions from a shrinking pool illustrates the years of steady inflation in required qualifications. Boomers all had degrees, usually in literature or psychology, and scrambled to find jobs. To help thin the onslaught every job above janitor required a baccalaureate degree.
Hey, at least they must know how to read, right?
For technical positions it became more and more difficult because technology changes very quickly and new technology arrives weekly. Just graduated engineers first had to be told to forget most everything that they learned and then to pay attention as they will spend a year or two in on the job training just like the old days before everyone had a degree.
There are many lines of development leading to the dropping of degree requirements and the rise of fast training for today’s applications and this week’s hot platform. The community college is too expensive but it is also to slow and to focused on a rapidly fading world. But the educational administrations are refusing to change. Their bonuses are tied to degrees even if no one wants them.