Alternative Routes to That First Career

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Alternative Routes to That First Career

By Lauren Weymouth

The lack of job-readiness among college graduates is in the news a lot lately. Study after study finds that student expectations exceed the reality when it comes to finding that first job. With a bachelor’s degree in hand, many graduates are poorly prepared for the job market. They’re also saddled with high debt and no way to pay it down for the foreseeable future. Many will find themselves settling for retail or seasonal jobs just to make some money until they can find a career position.

While college has long been the preferred path to higher education, more and more young people today are considering alternative routes. Enrollment in technical and trade schools is surging. They are now considered the smart choice for those who want to land a good job right away.

Stories about the best jobs that don’t require a college degree often include information technology, but jobs in health care like phlebotomy, massage therapy and medical assisting, and those in the trades, such as electrical technicians and skin care estheticians, are also good careers.

Students are turning to trade vocational schools that can offer them diplomas in these fields without going through four years of study and backbreaking loans. In most cases, they can graduate from a program in nine to 20 months, and end up with just $15,000 in educational costs – not 10 times that amount with $150,000 in college loans.

Most trade schools not only focus on the skills training and preparation for licensure needed in a career, but also on getting their graduates “career ready.” Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute in Danbury rehearses students on interview questions so they can see how they present themselves and work on any areas that need professional polish. How many colleges do that?

Technical schools have excellent job placement rates, many as high as 75 percent to 85 percent of graduates landing jobs within several months of graduation.

I’m not criticizing traditional colleges. I have a degree from a prestigious college that has served me well and I’m grateful for my career. The goal of a four-year college was the prescribed path for decades. But it’s not for everyone. The world is different today and needs in the job market have shifted. The educational paths of tomorrow will look very different from today. Statistics from Career Education Colleges and Universities show that by the year 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require some level of post-secondary education.

Our presidential candidates all mentioned creating and bringing jobs back. Jobs are already here. They’re in fields that perhaps our college graduates aren’t prepared for or haven’t considered because they’re still focused on more traditional positions in shrinking industries.

I’m happy to be on the leading edge of preparing students for careers in which jobs do exist and they can make a difference. Many of the roles they fill help make life easier for others and provide needed services in information technology, electrical systems technology, massage therapy, esthetics, medical assistants, billing and coding, and many other fields today. Technical and trade schools provide an excellent value today and students are wise to consider them.


This article was written by Lauren Weymouth, Business Development for Ridley-Lowell Business & Technical Institute. For more information, visit or call 203-797-0551.

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December 26, 2016

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