Jobs for the future, starting now.

Government officials like to tout “government-industry” partnerships to promote job growth.  Leave the government and our tax dollars out of the picture with industry-college partnerships.  I’m referring to co-op programs and apprenticeships, combinations of education and work experience that grow the economy and educate productive citizens.

Co-op programs are usually used for professional careers requiring a 4-year degree, often in STEM subjects.  A promising student enters into a contract with an employer that gives the student tuition assistance and summer on-the-job experience in exchange for the student agreeing to work for that employer for a specific number of years.  If the student defaults on the contract the unrepaid part of the assistance becomes a loan that must be repaid.  If the company defaults on the deal the student owes nothing.

Apprenticeships are used for skilled trades and typically involve education at a community college, possibly up to an associate degree, along with on-the-job training and work experience.  The contract is similar to the co-op program.  Apprenticeships work.  The US will always need skilled trades if it wants to regain industrial superiority, repair it’s aging infrastructure, keep construction building, and keep transportation moving.  Skilled trades offer a decent living to those who would rather work with their hands than in a white-collar career but want to do more than flip burgers.

Both of these programs exist now, but expansion of them would be better than more government intervention.  We could even give US companies a tax incentive to help train US workers and offset the cost with higher charges for importing foreign workers, e.g., through the H1B visa program

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