Positive Outcomes from Short Term Training Programs

by Fran Bernard, on Jan 10, 2024 8:39:24 AM


Is it possible to get an excellent job that pays well without spending four or more years at a traditional college or university? Could trade schools near me offer training that could lead to a good-paying job?

Absolutely yes! Many people choose to bypass that longer path and end up with some of America's highest-paying jobs. You do not need a bachelor’s degree to be able to out-earn many college graduates. 

The American Trucking Association recently predicted that the truck driver shortage could potentially reach 160,000 drivers by 2030. The industry also needs to recruit one million new drivers over the next decade to compensate for an aging and retiring workforce, combat voluntary and involuntary quitting, and support industry development. 

Short-term programs are available and might be just what you need. Trade schools and colleges offer short career programs that can qualify you for a professional role that pays well. Plenty of high-paying jobs without a bachelor’s degree required rival jobs that need a higher education, especially when it comes to salary and job outlook. Areas like healthcare, technology, and skilled trades are full of opportunities. The opportunities for those with just two years or less of trade school or vocational training can be surprising.

The enrollment trends in postsecondary education for fall this year offer a promising indication that an increasing number of Americans are acknowledging vocational and trade schools as a viable and credible alternative to a conventional college education. A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse shows that students continue to gravitate towards short-term and credential programs. Up nearly 10% compared to just 3.6% for associate degree programs and just 0.9% for bachelor’s degrees. 

Why is interest in short-term programs growing, even as appeal in four-year degrees declines? Short-term career training programs offered at trade and vocational schools have become well-established as an alternative for students who seek to gain employable skills without the time commitment and cost burden of a traditional college degree program. The debt that the students are burdened with is astronomical and many are choosing to find other ways to be trained in potential careers.  

That is the real value of short vocational schooling. It is all about getting new opportunities and a positive return on investment (ROI) with the least amount of schooling needed. In this case, ROI refers to the extra amount you can earn in your lifetime as a graduate, after subtracting the cost of schooling and the amount that a typical non-graduate would earn.

The growing popularity of short-term programs is also reflective of the modern job market. The largest portion of jobs (52%) in the U.S. require training beyond high school, but not a four-year degree, and employers of all sizes and industries are grappling with an ongoing labor shortage. The shortage of skilled tradespeople has been well documented.

The advantages of vocational and career training programs are numerous. They are more affordable, have higher graduation rates than traditional programs, provide hands-on learning, build relevant skills that employers seek, and take far less time to complete. Some programs, such as those required to earn a commercial truck driving license, can be finished in as few as several weeks. Additionally, unlike traditional colleges and universities, the schools providing these programs also offer comprehensive career services.

In contrast to most traditional four-year institutions, career and technical schools specialize in putting students on a more defined path to succeeding in the job market. This offers the chance to earn quick degrees or diplomas and complete fast career certification programs. Many of the best, highest-paying entry-level jobs can be attained with only two years or less of focused career education. In the trucking industry, students obtain 3-4 pre-hires before they even graduate.

If looking for easy trades that pay well, the ROI of graduating from a vocational college or trade school is often incredibly good since you learn marketable skills and technical abilities that employers need. Plus, your time is valuable. So why spend extra time training when there are great careers with little schooling you can get into sooner? You have the opportunity of walking right into a job as soon as you graduate from your program.

Vocational and trade schools are a necessary solution to address the national skilled labor shortages. They prepare students to enter the workforce fully trained and equipped to be productive employees. As industries evolve, trade schools can quickly adapt their curricula to address emerging skill requirements, helping to reduce skill shortages. Unfortunately, it takes much more time to make decisions and changes in the traditional higher education programs. 

The transportation industry plays an essential role in the U.S. economy and its infrastructure. With the demand for transported goods and materials constantly increasing, trucking organizations are tasked with making deliveries nationwide on tighter deadlines and against a growing number of competitors, putting a strain on organizations focused on operating safely and responsibly.

The increased pressure on daily operations requires more commercial vehicles and drivers—despite shortages of both—and, while many fleets have reallocated vehicles, maintaining daily operations remains challenging. 

The expansion of access to vocational education at trade schools would not only offer these individuals a pathway to improve their quality of life and provide for their families but also play a pivotal role in fortifying the national economy. By addressing critical skilled labor shortages, promoting workforce diversity, and equipping individuals with valuable skills, vocational education fosters a stronger and more inclusive society while fueling economic growth. 

There is growing evidence on the labor market benefits of short-term certificates. In multiple states, including Virginia, North Carolina, California, and many others, researchers have identified economic benefits to participating in these programs. 

So, trade schools and/or shorter programs gives you a broader view of your educational options to learn what skills are needed. This should be your introduction to a world of fast training options that can not only put you in a career that pays you well but put you in a career in a shorter amount of time and less cost than a typical four year or more college education.

Many traditional four-year degrees are not all they're cracked up to be. For example, a 2023 labor market study shows that, on average, people with bachelor's degrees in majors like education and the humanities have some of the lowest earnings of all their peers.

According to a 2019 NCES employment report, more than half of college graduates with a traditional bachelor's degree in science, technology, engineering, or math are not employed in the fields they studied. Science majors often have difficulty finding work in their fields. In many cases, success in these areas requires spending additional time in school to earn master's or doctorate degrees.

The result is that many college graduates who choose the conventional route end up underemployed in jobs like retail or food service. Those who major in science, or the liberal arts are especially vulnerable unless they go on to graduate school to increase their opportunities.  

Whether traditional college is worth the time and investment often depends on the career you want. You will need to discover if you can achieve your goals without a degree. Often, training at a vocational school is really what you need. 

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Topics:Driver Perspective

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