Jobless Rates Rise: Is Our System Broken?

By Jack Humphrey | education

Jan 20

A recent article in the Pal-Item points out news we’ve grown all-too accustomed to seeing:  All area counties saw an increase in the jobless rate.


(Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

This kind of news has become normal.  Which leads me to believe our entire system of schooling and job training is not one we can just count on to “get better” someday.  My feeling is the system is completely broken.  But there is great news on the horizon if you look outside the traditional higher education, vocational training to job system.

Phil Quinn, Richmond, Indiana Council Member, pointed out on his Facebook stream that there are 5 candidates for each job posted in Indiana, but for candidates with Technical training, there are 2.4 jobs for every applicant.  (source:  Change the Equation)

There is an obvious opportunity boost for job seekers who train up.  But that means dealing with the expense of higher education, which is a severe problem these days.  Being strapped with debt from higher tuition rates across the board, graduates are under the gun to take anything they can get (not the job they are best suited for necessarily) in order to get on the debt repayment treadmill.

The cost of education continues to soar, and, while opportunities for those who push through higher-ed have a better chance at a better job, there is still a good deal of competition for jobs which produces heavy stress in the system.

“13.4 percent of student loan borrowers who entered repayment from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009, had already defaulted within three years, according to the Department of Education.” –Student Loan Ranger

Employers are slow to think outside the system of traditional college degrees, but some, who are having a hard time finding qualified applicants, have no choice but to seek out employees with all the right stuff, even without traditional educations.

Even so, large employers who may get 1000 resumes for a new opening are sometimes to blame for overlooking highly qualified applicants due to resume scanner technology which will spit out resumes from applicants who are more than qualified, but lack a “keyword” on their resume, such as “college degree.”

This means you could have 30 years experience in a field and, if the scanning software isn’t set up to properly weigh in favor of experience over a traditional college education, be rejected before a human being even sees your resume.  What kind of sense does that make?

Possible Solution?

Online education startups seek to disrupt the billion dollar for-profit higher-ed industry. More and more studies and articles are being written about a shift in higher education and what it means to become “certified” to perform certain jobs.

Though you cannot replace the human interaction a traditional campus-based education fulfills, probably too much weight is currently being given to that experience at the expense of what matters most:  training a work force up to the jobs in areas that are growing faster than we can produce qualified people.

Saving our economy and lowering our unemployment rate depends on looking at any and all ideas that have the potential to redirect our broken system to a new reality.  If we continue to rely on traditional campus-based education (whose costs are completely out of control) to provide our job market with people who can both handle the debt they’ve incurred while performing well in their jobs, we’re going to have big problems.

Food for Thought:  How many articles, biographies, or interviews with successful people have you seen over the years that point out the fact that they were high school or college dropouts?  Recognize anyone on this rather massive list?

Rather than lamenting the fact that, within the current system of expensive higher education, our nation has big problems getting people to work, maybe we should spend some time thinking outside the system.  Maybe we should be supporting innovative new ways to educate, certify and qualify workers for the economy ahead rather than the economy we left behind.
Online Education Resources

  • – Programming
  • Coursera – “Take the world’s best courses, online, for free.”
  • 2U – Web-based higher ed courses.
  • Minerva – Still in startup.
  • Udacity – Free online courses.
  • Udemy – learning from world’s experts.
  • Kahn Academy – “Learn Almost Anything For Free.”

About the Author

Editor of, CEO of Twitter: @jackhumphrey