As the Trump administration works to expand apprenticeship programs and match young workers with well-paying opportunities, the State of California is naturally going the opposite direction. Snubbing apprenticeships and trade schools, California legislators are instead working to incentivize their increasingly expensive university system.
Under California’s new budget deal, students who meet the baseline requirements for the California State University (CSU) system will get accepted to at least one CSU school. Currently, the University of California (UC) system already promises admission to students who rank in the top 9 percent of graduates in the state.
This move does nothing to help fill the massive skills gap driving the national unemployment rate. As Labor Secretary Alex Acosta noted, “This skills gap is a particular challenge in some of the fastest growing sectors of the economy: financial services, healthcare and information technology.” He also pointed out that there are 360,000 vacancies in manufacturing and 200,000 available construction jobs — jobs that, for the most part, do not require a four-year degree.
Apprenticeships also mean virtually zero debt for those participating in them. As Secretary Acosta succinctly put it, “Apprentices earn while they learn.” Meanwhile, California’s college graduates are saddled with an average debt of more than $22,000, and face limited job opportunities compared to pre-Recession levels. The unemployment rate for college graduates is around 5.6 percent, and the underemployment rate has grown to 11.9 percent.
California Assembly Budget Chair Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) claims that funds in the budget for next year will keep up with this increased acceptance rate, but future funds are never certain. This ultimately means tuition will rise, yet again, for CSU students leading to an increase in student debt – not to mention that many degrees continue to yield a low return on investment.
The motives behind this budget proposal are pretty clear. California’s Democratic supermajority realizes that the left controls its public education system, and it wants to make sure that as many young people as possible are influenced – or indoctrinated – by California left-leaning institutions.