The issues of vocation, college attendance and developmental guidance are very important aspects of youth ministry. This is a subject where youth workers easily find tension as we navigate through the realities of our culture, parental expectations, student assumptions, the American Dream and Kingdom obedience to God’s mission.
Here are a couple of resources that may help you to think through these issues which we cannot afford to ignore if we are truly forming disciples of Jesus Christ and shaping our churches for God’s mission in the world.
In the Nov/Dec issue of Immerse Journal, renowned architect David Greusel wrote an article challenging status quo thinking on the idea that college is the only trajectory for today’s young people. He helps youth workers think through how to reset this default assumption.
Greusel states, “In my family, the default assumption was always contrasted with ditch digging, as though all students who didn’t go to college ended up in the manual excavation business. It was assumed to be self-evident that ditch digging was a horrible enough idea, so it was unnecessary to point out that getting a college diploma was to be preferred—it was just assumed. It was even less likely that someone around our dinner table would have entertained the idea that ditch digging (as it is really done—operating big, yellow, heavy equipment with multiple knobs and levers) might be fun, might be work that someone would actually want to do on purpose.”
He also wrote on this subject at Cardus in an article called, “Vocational Reform.”
This morning Roy Williams’ Monday Memo asks the question, “But Why Are You Going to College?” He writes,
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.”
- Proverbs, ch. 22
Stand before kings? Sounds great! But how does one get “skilled in his work?”
American children were taught for 100 years that all we had to do to be successful was listen, take notes, remember what we were told and repeat it accurately when asked.
Americans call this silliness “education” and we guard the concept fiercely, obstinately and ridiculously.
“You’ve got the grades to get into college…”
“Smart enough to get a scholarship…”
“The first of my family to go to college…”
The worship of college runs deep in American families. To question college or to criticize it is to brand yourself a heretic.
But college is no longer a religion among employers.
A comprehensive study released by the Harvard Graduate School of Education on February 2, 2011, suggests that America’s “college for all” mindset may be doing more harm than good. According to the study, Americans place too much emphasis on 4-year degree programs when 2-year occupational programs would better prepare students for today’s job market.
Fifty years ago 30 percent of the jobs in America were “white collar.” The white collars enjoyed more prestige, had more opportunity and made more money than the 70 percent who were “blue collar” laborers.
College, we were told, was the difference.
Flash forward half a century; 30 percent of the jobs in America today are “white collar,” just as before. But only 15 percent of today’s jobs are “blue collar.” The remaining 50 percent are jobs that didn’t exist half a century ago; jobs that require specialized training but not a 4-year degree.
And since there aren’t enough people trained to do these jobs, our skilled “no collars” are paid wonderfully high salaries because employers are begging to hire them. The no collars make higher salaries, in fact, than two-thirds of the 30 percent whose collars are white.
“Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings.” And he will do it without a collar.
Meanwhile, our universities graduate exactly 10 times more psychology majors each year than there are jobs for psychology majors. But these bright-eyed innocents are never told, “There will be a job for only 1 in every 10 of you. The rest of you will have to find some other way to make a living.”
I’m betting you know at least a dozen young adults with college degrees who are struggling to find work today. Am I right? But the problem isn’t that there aren’t any jobs. There are plenty of jobs for people with the right skills. These “educated unemployed” simply chose a course of study for which there is no demand in today’s workplace.” From Monday Morning Memo, February 28, 2011 - Roy Williams
Youth workers, any thoughts? How do we create this conversation in our churches? How important is this issue?