Collaborating Authors

After decades of pushing bachelor's degrees, U.S. needs more tradespeople

PBS NewsHour

Three percent of welders in the U.S. are women. Esparza is a 46-year-old mechanic for Evolution Fresh, a subsidiary of Starbucks that makes juices and smoothies. He's taking a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages. The skills being taught here are in high demand. That's in part because so much effort has been put into encouraging high school graduates to go to college for academic degrees rather than for training in industrial and other trades that many fields like his face worker shortages.

How to Close the Tech Skills Gap


A quarter of a century ago, a single developer could build a decent website using only HTML and CSS. Recruiting developers was fairly straightforward because the skills, while scarce, were easy to name and recognize. And aspiring engineers could learn the bulk of the skills they'd need from standard college computer science coursework. Today, top-tier websites require collaborative efforts from a team of engineers with increasingly specialized skill sets. Front-end developers, who design the pages users interact with, work alongside back-end engineers, mobile engineers, platform engineers, information security teams, all of whom have taken years to master their specialty.

Who will teach career and technical training courses that states want?

PBS NewsHour

Mike Guillen works on the assembly line at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Arlington, Texas June 9, 2015. General Motors Co is raising the stakes on its bet that sales of fuel-thirsty sport utility vehicles will keep driving its global profits as Chinese and other markets sag. GM said on July 14, 2015 that it plans to spend $1.4 billion to modernize the factory in Arlington, Texas, that builds the Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon sport utility vehicles. It's the largest single investment in a $5.4 billion, three-year plant upgrade program announced earlier this year. Picture taken June 9, 2015.

States want more career and technical training, but struggle to find teachers

PBS NewsHour

While employers say they cannot find skilled workers, high schools are cutting technical education courses. Many Minnesota employers say they can't find skilled workers with the right career training. Meanwhile, high schools are cutting career and technical education courses because they can't find qualified teachers. "The jobs are there, and we're not preparing our kids well enough to get into those jobs because the system has not allowed us to," said Stephen Jones, the superintendent of schools in Little Falls, Minnesota. His district hasn't had to cancel any courses for lack of instructors, but he says smaller districts in the state have.

Just in Time for Whom?


Future Tense is a partnership of Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies, public policy, and society. When Julie VanCleave was laid off from Maytag a decade ago, as the appliance manufacturer pulled all of its operations out of Newton, Iowa, she was anxious about what was next. For nearly two decades, she had worked as a secretary. She lacked a college degree. She was 50 years old.