News / Economy

US Colleges Struggle to Keep Up with New Technical Skills

US Colleges Struggle to Keep Up with New Technical Skillsi
X
May 07, 2013 12:57 PM
Despite recent improvements, U.S. unemployment remains high. But at the same time, experts say a lack of computer-savvy workers means several million technology jobs could go unfilled. The president of a college that grants thousands of technical degrees each year says schools are struggling to keep up with the new skills needed for technical professions that didn't exist a couple of years ago. VOA’s Jim Randle reports.
TEXT SIZE - +
Despite recent improvements, U.S. unemployment remains high. But at the same time, experts say a lack of computer-savvy workers means several million technology jobs could go unfilled. 

The president of a college that grants thousands of technical degrees each year says schools are struggling to keep up with the new skills needed for technical professions that didn't exist a couple of years ago. 

Northern Virginia Community College near Washington has several campuses and 75,000 students. It offers a two year associate degree. Many of its students, including Marc McCarthy, hope to turn computer skills into a new profession and a good salary.

“Fortunately in this industry, we are really blessed with a lot of openings,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy is back in college after decades working in hotels and restaurants - an industry, he said, that offers few good opportunities in the future.

Experts said many U.S. manufacturing, administrative, and middle management jobs have been eliminated by automation and foreign competition in recent years.  Cornell University Labor Economist Sharon Poczter said they were once a ticket to a secure middle class salary. But the job market has changed.

“This growth in jobs has been either towards the low skill, low income  jobs, or the higher skill, higher income jobs and that’s why we have seen this hollowing out of the middle class, of the factory jobs, of the office jobs," Poczter said.

Educators tell students it's more important than ever to develop math, science and computer skills because technological change is accelerating, and the demand for highly-specialized skills is growing.  

School administrators are also trying to identify skills needed for emerging professions, and figure out ways to teach them.

The president of Northern Virginia Community College, Robert Templin, said it's difficult for schools to hit this “moving target.”

"Just in the last five years, new careers in fields like health information technology, cyber security, geospatial systems, these are fields [that] a decade ago didn't even exist.  So trying to prepare someone for a job that is not yet there is pretty difficult," Templin said.  

But Templin said it's worth the effort because it makes it more likely that graduates will find good jobs.  Computer Science graduates, he said, can start at $60,000 a year.

Unemployment for U.S. college graduates is low, but a recent survey shows that four out of 10 recent graduates say they are under-employed, doing jobs, like in retail sales, that do not require the degrees they have earned.  They are disappointed because these jobs do not bring the kinds of salaries they were hoping to earn.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.