WATCH: Why 4-year college isn't for everyone
Rep. Davidson says schools and businesses must focus more on skills and less on credentials.
He supports apprenticeships as a way to gain skills a student needs to succeed in a trade occupation.
Rep. Warren Davidson (OH-8) sees challenges and opportunities in American education.
He told Campus Reform that Americans should end the stigma against those who choose an apprenticeship or technical training program rather than a traditional four-year college.
Davidson spoke out against the assumption that a four-year college is the right choice for every student.
He said, “That’s been ingrained now for probably a couple generations at least, and even socially, people put a stigma on, ‘Oh well you didn’t go to college,’ and you know, culturally, we have to end that.”
He continued, “We should respect people that decide to be plumbers, electricians, you know, brick masons, all these skilled trades require real mastery to do it well.”
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Davidson said that he majored in history and believes that colleges can provide value both in the liberal arts disciplines and in preparing students with in-demand job skills. In his past career, he worked in manufacturing and saw firsthand how skills-based hiring can benefit employers and employees alike.
Davidson used to work in manufacturing, and his company hired skilled and talented workers whether or not they had a traditional college degree.
Remembering the 2008 financial crisis, Davidson remarked, “Someone reached out to me and said, “Hey, you know, my previous employer where I had been rec as an engineer won’t hire me back because I don’t have a bachelors degree. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’…I said, ‘Well I’ll hire you!’ So we started hiring all these engineers, and it really was great for our business.”
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A person’s level of education, Davidson said, did not matter to the company as much as their skills.
“In one case, we had a customer who literally had a degree in engineering with no experience who was now using our company to manage the projects because they could no longer do it in-house,” he said.
Additionally, Davidson stated that the value of a college degree is declining because academic standards have fallen throughout the educational system.
“We’re graduating students today who are worse at math than students who were graduating in the 40s and 50s in the United States,” he said.
Calling the decline “the tragedy of low expectations,” Davidson voiced his support for America’s students to receive a quality education no matter what level of education they choose.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @AngelaLMorabito