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.
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

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win More

Video Russian Anti-Corruption Campaigner Slams Putin’s Crackdown on Dissent

In interview with VOA Alexei Navalny says he believes new law against 'undesirable NGOs' part of move to keep Russian president in power More

Video On The Scene: In Ethiopia, 'Are You a Journalist?' Is a Loaded Question

VOA's Anita Powell describes the difficulties faced by reporters in fully conveying the story in a country where people are reticent to share their true opinions 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9205
JPY
USD
123.69
GBP
USD
0.6508
CAD
USD
1.2456
INR
USD
64.051

Rates may not be current.