December 2, 2023

Nondegree credentials, work-based learning, and the American working class

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Rooney Columbus, American Enterprise Institute

For decades society has regarded a bachelor’s degree from a traditional higher education institution as one of the surest paths to prosperity.2 But a bachelor’s degree program at a traditional college is not always the best option for everyone, nor is it the only avenue for people to receive training and skills that will pay off in the job market.3 After years of policymakers and advocates advancing a broad “college for all” agenda, many Americans are questioning this sweeping and singular approach to human capital development.4 Even so, it remains unclear what other viable education and training alternatives exist to build necessary skills and secure employment. A broad spectrum of researchers and policy thinkers have argued for expanding alternatives to the traditional postsecondary system.

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