I had the privilege recently to talk to groups of current and potential students in the midst of an important life decision: whether to pursue a postsecondary education.
I spoke at Career and Technical Education (CTE) National Letter of Intent Signing Day. PCC participates in the nationwide event, patterned after signing day ceremonies for student-athletes. Nearly 150 PCC and high school students pledged to pursue a credential at PCC in CTE disciplines ranging from Aviation Technology to Welding.
I also spoke to a group of about 75 seniors from Sunnyside and Desert View high schools who are taking part in the PCC Orientation Institute, which provides information and support to prospective PCC students.
Of course, in my view, the decision is easy. Students should go to college, because, as I told the students at Signing Day, education will be essential to obtain meaningful employment. By 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education. Of those, 21 percent will require bachelor’s degrees. The rest are middle-skill jobs in a variety of technical and skilled-service fields, such as manufacturing and healthcare.
I understand that it’s also a time of ambiguity and uncertainty. Industry 4.0, the global economic upheaval encompassing technological advances in a multitude of areas, such as mobile technology, artificial intelligence, cloud-based computing and the Internet of Things, is proceeding with such speed most of today’s first-graders will be employed in jobs that do not currently exist.
But the depth and breadth of coming economic changes makes a lifetime of education even more important. It all starts with college. As I said to the students at the Orientation Institute, my generation is counting on theirs to meet the challenges sure to arise as we progress through the 21st century.