New York Times, June 2022
Shanna Jackson, the president of Nashville State Community College, is struggling with a dilemma that reads like good news: Her students are taking jobs from employers who are eager to hire, and paying them good wages. The problem is that students often drop their plans to earn a degree in order to take the attractive positions offered by these desperate employers. Ms. Jackson is worried that when the labor market cools—a near certainty as the Federal Reserve Board raises interest rates, slowing the economy in an attempt to control rapid inflation—an incomplete education will come back to haunt these students.
“If you’ve got housing costs rising, gas prices going up, food prices going up, the short-term decision is: Let me make money now, and I’ll go back to school later,” Ms. Jackson said. Anecdotally, she said, the issue is most intense in hospitality-related training programs, where credentials are often valued but not technically required.