This is to say that colleges and universities are often set up to function like their own little economic re-distribution systems. And while the goal of getting lower income Americans enrolled into college is noble, the cost of it is usually balanced on the backs of middle class students and parents who are trying to earn their way through life. If a student isn’t “poor enough” to qualify for needs-based assistance, then the student will face ever-rising tuition rates.
The less obvious component to the college education dilemma directly involves changes in the nature of our American economy. Although it doesn’t fit conveniently in to the various narratives of our national political dialog, the fact is that our country may very well be – believe it or not – on the verge of a manufacturing renaissance (gasp!). And it may be happening without the permission and blessing of the AFL CIO (gasp again!).
For most of the past forty years, the U.S. has been a place where great things are invented and designed, but the actual building of those things has happened on other continents. Yet last year, the General Electric Corporation began once again to build refrigerators and dishwashers in the U.S., reversing a nearly two-decade long trend. Last fall, the Deloitte global consulting firm published a report suggesting that nearly three-quarters of a million jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector remain un-filled, because employers can’t find workers with the correct skills. And Jeff Immelt, CEO of General Electric, even suggested that the U.S. is poised for a sizeable “in-sourcing” boom – the opposite of “out sourcing” – where manufacturing jobs that were once “sent overseas” return home.
This scenario also challenges the importance of a college degree. It suggests that we may be on a trajectory where people who know how to weld, operate a lathe, and run a drill press, could one day be in higher demand than those with accounting, engineering, and computer science degrees.
An “in sourcing” boom. A manufacturing renaissance. Some would call these things wishful thinking, yet the beginnings of such phenomena are here, right now. Americans should be preparing for it – and we should all be asking the leaders of colleges and universities why their prices only go up.
Austin Hill is an Author, Consultant, and Host of "Austin Hill's Big World of Small Business," a syndicated talk show about small business ownership and entrepreneurship. He is Co-Author of the new release "The Virtues Of Capitalism: A Moral Case For Free Markets." , Author of "White House Confidential: The Little Book Of Weird Presidential History," and a frequent guest host for Washington, DC's 105.9 WMAL Talk Radio.