By: Allen West
America doesn’t have an unemployment problem – it has an education and skilled worker problem. Right now, there are millions of available jobs all around the country with top companies offering good pay and benefits. However, the problem for these potential employers is a lack of skilled or properly educated workers. This is a massive issue in America, which President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos are working to address.
Recent figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show the number of potential jobs in America at an all-time high – roughly six million available jobs – but new hire rates are dropping. Why? Officials in Atlanta say while the construction industry in their city is booming, many companies and individual contractors cannot get skilled workers to fill much-needed positions. In Nevada County, California, contractors describe the labor shortage as “terrible”, an “enormous problem” that has now reached a “critical” shortage. Detroit Chamber of Commerce officials say they are losing a half a billion dollars a year in potential economic growth due to a lack of skilled workers in many job sectors.
The President and Secretary DeVos are working to resolve the skilled worker shortage by reviewing, and potentially, rolling back several onerous regulations that will allow private colleges to again flourish. Many private colleges and universities in America offer degrees for specific jobs that lead to careers in engineering, computer networking, the broader technology industry, aircraft or automotive repair, law enforcement, nursing, healthcare administration, etc.
During the Obama Administration, ultra-left education elites flooded into the Department of Education (ED) and engaged in aggressive campaigns to disparage private schools, their programs or their founders. Robert Shireman now with the Century Foundation, made many deliberately misleading accusations against private colleges. He was often joined by independent education policy “analyst” David Halperin and others in vehemently attacking private education. These dishonest allegations, coupled with bad policy regulations from the ED were orchestrated with the main goal of shutting down many private schools. During Obama’s reign, hundreds of private college campuses closed and thousands of students, including veterans, active duty military, women, and diverse groups of minority students, were kicked to the curb. The liberal progressive left sincerely believed that unless the government was running education, as with healthcare, it had to be bad.
The President and Secretary DeVos have been under attack from this small but vocal band of education elitists since day one, but Sec. DeVos is already moving to strengthen private college education. She recently announced her intention to address one bad regulation known as the “Borrower Defense to Repayment” rule. This controversial rule allows students to stop paying their education loans if they think they have been defrauded in some way. And who pays the bill if a student walks away from his or her loan obligation – the taxpayer. This rule also allows ED to arbitrarily condemn schools without any defined process for appeal. TV ads by law firms enticing students to claim fraud and walk away from their loans were already running when Secretary DeVos correctly announced that ED was putting the brakes on this regulation while under review.
Shortly after taking office, President Trump issued a directive to the ED and other agencies to create and launch task force reviews of all regulations imposed during the Obama years. The defense to repayment regulation is one identified by ED as in need of serious overhaul. Another regulation is the arbitrary, “Gainful Employment” rule, which sets unrealistic standards for schools regarding how long graduates can take to find a job in their related field. We expect to see the ED’s recommendations regarding additional regulatory overhaul in just a few days.
The University “Composite Score” rating is another example of bad education policy that was deliberately crafted to attack private schools. The “Composite Score” is simply a formula designed by education bureaucrats with no experience in running a college to reveal the alleged financial health of a college. This is very similar to what financial institutions, especially small community banks, were experiencing with another dubious progressive leftist regulation by way of Dodd-Frank. A bad score of, “…not financially responsible” not only jeopardizes a school’s ability to attract students, it makes the school needlessly obtain a letter of credit and threatens the school’s ability to receive Title IV funding.
America needs skilled workers who graduate from public and private colleges with degrees that lead to good paying jobs and successful careers. Privately run colleges and universities fill an important void by producing qualified workers who can apply for jobs with the specific training and instruction needed to be successful.
The President’s plan to revive the job market and the economy along with Secretary DeVos’ leadership at ED are much needed first steps, but Congress needs to act as well. Once the ED’s reform priorities are made public, Congress should move to pass new laws to strengthen private education and help fill our skilled worker void. With the help of Congress, private colleges and Universities can bring an end to a skilled worker shortage that is hampering our economic recovery and limiting our nation’s ability to compete in a global market.
The amount of damage done by the eight years of Barack Obama bureaucratic progressive socialist policies are like a metastasizing cancer. It spread throughout every aspect of our system of governance from our economy, healthcare, and national security. But nowhere are these insidious regulatory exploits more dangerous than with the education of future Americans.