When I graduated from technical school in Iowa in 1985, a college classmate lined me up with a job opportunity in Stone Mountain. Fresh out of school and just getting started in my career, I had always been inspired by the independent and entrepreneurial farmers from my community and knew one day I would own my own business.
What made that dream possible? First, hard work and drive. These are always key ingredients in success of any kind. But the primary foundation for my career was the solid heating and air fundamentals I learned in my HVAC technical education program. That foundation, combined with 10 years working for the largest HVAC companies in metro Atlanta, helped me realize my dream and launch my business in 1996.
Fast-forward 22 years and now I’m working hard as a living example to help young people embrace technical education as an affordable and enjoyable path to lifelong careers and happiness.
Why should your child consider exploring the option of technical eduction? Let’s look at the numbers.
A Brief Assessment of Higher Education in America
Why is it that we have a mindset where high school should automatically be followed with a four year degree at a university? Why is that option considered the typical ticket to “success” for our children? The numbers simply don’t add up.
- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 48% of employed college graduates of the class of 2010 are in jobs that require less than a four-year college education.
- The Association for Career and Technical Education assesses of the 55 million job openings created by 2020, 30% will require only some college or a two-year associate degree.
- According to Student Loan Hero, Americans owe over $1.45 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among 44 million borrowers.
- Student loan debt has risen by 250% in the last decade
- Student loan debt is nearly $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt. Wow!
As noted by famed technical education champion Mike Rowe, “We’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back.”
The Benefits of Technical Education
- Thanks to a typical two-year timeframe, you’ll be starting your career and income-earning potential two years earlier than you would if pursuing a traditional bachelor’s degree.
- You’ll pay significantly less tuition and have far fewer textbooks to buy!
- You’ll be gaining highly specialized, hands-on experience in the skilled trades, modern technologies, applied sciences and career preparation.
- Technical education programs offer career-oriented courses, and provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world work experience through job shadowing, on-the-job training, and industry-certification opportunities.
- The programs in technical education are focused around high skill, high wage, high demand jobs, most of which are critical to our growing community and cannot be outsourced.
- Graduates from world-class technical colleges like Gwinnett Tech aren’t struggling to find jobs, because they’ve graduated from programs where jobs are in high demand! In fact, Gwinnett Tech has a 99% job placement rate for graduates.
Georgia’s Leaders are Embracing Technical Education
Having received several scholarships and grants myself, I felt compelled to return this honor to others in need and established the Holtkamp HVAC scholarship at Gwinnett Technical College in 2012.
This spring I will be named Chairman of the Gwinnett Tech Foundation Board and will also help kick off the new “LaunchPointe” Center; connecting local businesses with students for internships and creating opportunities for business owners to share stories of entrepreneurship.
The vision is to inspire students and alumni to go out and make Gwinnett even stronger and more successful.
I was also privileged to recently chat with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal and discuss technical education and how it helps create our workforce of tomorrow here in Gwinnett and beyond.
Thankfully, through the expansion of the Hope Career Grant, the Technical College System of Georgia now offers tuition-free programs in 17 in-demand career opportunities. And at the technical education oriented Maxwell High School right here in Gwinnett, students can get a head start on their career path.
I hope you now see how economically advantageous it can be to embrace technical education as an affordable and effective path to a high paying career.
If you have any questions or want to pitch in to help support technical education as a driving force in our community, please send me a note!