The 1-2-7 Rule

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The Imagine America Foundation recently had the honor of presenting a webinar with Dr. Steve Coyle of Universal Technical Institute (UTI). We know that the workforce is changing, and Dr. Coyle shared with us (and some eager high school counselors) just how much that’s true.

Dr. Coyle described what he called “The New Smart,” the changing way students should (and are) thinking about postsecondary education and their long-term goals. It used to be that high school students’ main priority was getting into a good college. Secondary to that was obtaining a good education, earning a degree, and beginning a job search.

All of that later-in-life stuff hinged on a college acceptance letter. But now, the focus is on getting into a good career: students are thinking about what jobs are a good fit, how to get hands-on experience, and gaining the skills that employers need. Students are deciding where they want to end up first, and then picking the best route to get there (often a certificate, diploma, or degree program).

He also described the 1-2-7 rule that we’re seeing in the American workforce today: for every 10 careers, only 1 requires an advanced degree and just 2 require a bachelor’s degree. The other 7 require a credential like a degree or a diploma, one that demonstrates a skill. What the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows is that 48 percent of college graduates are going into occupations that don’t require a degree.

Postsecondary education no longer means university for all. It means career readiness for all. Competency-based credentials are what employers look for when making hiring decisions. So students thinking ahead to their career plans are looking for a school that offers career pathways for its graduates.

Do you have students who might be ready to pursue a career training program rather than attending a traditional four-year university? IAF has a robust database of schools, including UTI, to help them find the right program. We’ve also developed countless resources to support students along the way, from scholarship and award programs to help finding an apartment and creating their first budget. We can’t wait to help them get on the path to a new career!