Opening Up Jobs for Those Without a College Degree

More from our inbox:

  • Don’t Ignore Long Covid. We Are All Vulnerable.
  • Donald Trump, the True RINO
  • Beware of Online Romance Scams

Credit…Illustration by Rebecca Chew/The New York Times; photographs by belterz and Zoonar RF, via Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Make the Labor Market Work for More Americans” (editorial, Jan. 29):

Opening up more government and private-sector jobs for those without college degrees makes sense in a time of ever higher college costs and when employers face a struggle hiring qualified applicants. There is so much to be gained from old-fashioned, on-the-job experience.

However, to make the most of this approach, our high school education system has to restore skills-learning courses, such as basic arithmetic, bookkeeping, writing a letter, reading basic instruction manuals, and wood shop and home economics skills.

Such aptitudes are necessary for all, college grads included, but they have been lost over the past several decades.

Ever see a young cashier who is given the return change amount by his register but cannot count out $2.93?

Arthur H. Gunther
Blauvelt, N.Y.

To the Editor:

I may be an “old school” H.R. professional, but I worry about my colleagues’ mad rush to so-called skill-based hiring. To be sure, many (perhaps most) jobs do not necessarily require a college degree per se, but they do require individuals who can think analytically and critically, comprehend and synthesize concepts and ideas, and above all, communicate all those things to others in a way that’s understandable.

It used to be that one acquired these competencies in college (any college!!), and while they can surely be acquired elsewhere, they are no less needed today than they were in the past.

I fear that in our rush to embrace a seemingly more egalitarian approach to hiring, we may be “dumbing down” what we demand of new employees. But that’s just me, and as I said, I’m naïvely old school.

Questions about the pandemic

Card 1 of 4

When will the pandemic end? We asked three experts — two immunologists and an epidemiologist — to weigh in on this and some of the hundreds of other questions we’ve gathered from readers recently, including how to make sense of booster and test timing, recommendations for children, whether getting covid is just inevitable and other pressing queries.

How concerning are things like long covid and reinfections? That’s a difficult question to answer definitely, writes the Opinion columnist Zeynep Tufekci, because of the lack of adequate research and support for sufferers, as well as confusion about what the condition even is. She has suggestions for how to approach the problem. Regarding another ongoing Covid danger, that of reinfections, a virologist sets the record straight: “There has yet to be a variant that negates the benefits of vaccines.”

How will the virus continue to change? As a group of scientists who study viruses explains, “There’s no reason, at least biologically, that the virus won’t continue to evolve.” From a different angle, the science writer David Quammen surveys some of the highly effective tools and techniques that are now available for studying Covid and other viruses, but notes that such knowledge alone won’t blunt the danger.

What could endemic Covid look like? David Wallace Wells writes that by one estimate, 100,000 Americans could die each year from the coronavirus. Stopping that will require a creative effort to increase and sustain high levels of vaccination. The immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki writes that new vaccines, particular those delivered through the nose, may be part of the answer.

Ron Sanders
Sarasota, Fla.
The writer is a former H.R. director for several federal agencies.

To the Editor:

Ending college degree requirements for most jobs will unleash economic opportunity. But this step must be part of a culture shift that recognizes a worker not only as a worker, but also as an individual with a unique purpose and potential.

The editorial noted that many workers feel anxiety and bitterness. These feelings will have grave consequences for society if not addressed. For example, Gallup estimates employers lose $322 billion annually because of employee burnout.

The consulting firm Gartner has advised, “People want purpose in their lives — and that includes work.” One reason that many U.S. workers are unhappy is that our education-to-work system doesn’t help identify an individual’s passions and aptitudes and then provide that person with skills-building options that match who they are.

Parents, educators, employers and community stakeholders must rethink how we help people identify what work will provide meaning (and a paycheck!) to them. Unearthing a person’s unique purpose — and developing skills through college or another personalized path — must be our new mission.

Ryan Stowers
Arlington, Va.
The writer is executive director of the Charles Koch Foundation.

To the Editor:

While I have a college degree, some of the best white-collar professionals I’ve worked with didn’t have one. Job requirements should read, “College degree or equivalent training/work experience.” That’s the easy part.

But merely eliminating the college-degree requirement for labor market or political reasons is insufficient. Determining those factors — experience, education, personality, team/management style fit — that predict which job candidates will be more likely to succeed is key.

In the absence of that knowledge, hiring decisions will, to an even greater extent, be based on gut feelings or unsupported personal opinions.

John Miraglia
Old Bridge, N.J.

To the Editor:

A degree was never proof of intelligence or creativity.

But in a world where technology is becoming the foremost frontier at an exponential rate, we can’t afford to continue losing ground to other nations, as we have been doing for decades.

Let’s not jump completely off the cliff of higher learning. I would emphasize your first point about making college more affordable a priority.

Warren Horton
Greenport, N.Y.

Don’t Ignore Long Covid. We Are All Vulnerable.

The White House said that the nation needed an orderly transition out of the public health emergency, which has been in effect for all of President Biden’s time in office.Credit…Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Says U.S. Will Allow Public Health Emergency for Covid to Expire in May” (news article, Jan. 31) and “After Three Years, a Newsletter Comes to an End” (Feb. 1):

I was frustrated to learn that the Biden administration was letting the coronavirus public health emergency expire in May, and was doubly frustrated and disappointed to read that The Times was ending its Virus Briefing.

Contrary to what is being said by many, Covid is not over. While the number of deaths and hospitalizations has gone down, many people are still getting the virus. The long-term consequences of Covid are just beginning to become clear and have barely been addressed by many media outlets.

As stated in a study published in Nature Reviews Microbiology,“At least 65 million individuals worldwide are estimated to have long Covid, with cases increasing daily.” There are no proven effective treatments and ongoing research is limited. Millions of people are unable to return to work.

My 40-year-old daughter, double vaxxed and double boosted, now has long Covid. She is incapacitated. She was fit and athletic and now can’t walk and can barely stand for five minutes. There are millions like her facing the same uncertain, depressing future. The debilitating consequences of Covid may be lifelong.

The country needs to be educated. More research must be done, more studies and trials begun, more clinics set up, more resources applied to improving the care and outcomes for those with long Covid. Anyone who gets the virus, even those who get a mild or asymptomatic case and have no pre-existing conditions, is vulnerable to getting long Covid.

Stephanie H. Stauffer
New York

Donald Trump, the True RINO

Former President Donald J. Trump held a campaign event last month at the State Capitol in Columbia, S.C.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Trump Won’t Commit to Backing G.O.P. Presidential Nominee in 2024” (news article, Feb. 3):

At last the truth is out. Donald Trump’s reluctance to back any Republican nominee for president (other than his own exalted self) shows that he himself is a RINO, a Republican in Name Only.

That is the epithet he uses against any Republican who dares to differ with him. But actually Mr. Trump and his toadies have been RINOs from the start, because they certainly did not fit the definition of “Republican” as I have understood it in my 92 years.

Albert Kutzin
Melville, N.Y.

Beware of Online Romance Scams

The authorities told Ms. Kleinert that there was nothing they could do after she sent $39,000 in gift cards to a man who identified himself online as Tony. “The loss that hurts the most is losing his love,” she said.Credit…Amanda Mustard for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Retirees Lost Millions to Romance Scams During Lonely Days of the Pandemic” (Business, Feb. 6):

Seniors (and others) should be cautious about romance scams from all online sources, not only dating sites. I know someone who was drawn into an online romance scam when playing on one of the social word game sites.

It usually starts with the scammer commenting something like, “That was an interesting choice — very creative.” Something that flatters and draws someone in.

The target’s family members discovered the scam when they found a telltale printout. Yup, it was the classic case of needing travel money for a visit that didn’t happen.

Jan Owens
Mount Pleasant, Wis.

Related Articles

Back to top button