The Mellowing of Anthony Carnevale

Anthony Carnevale heads the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, which has a factory-like propensity to produce reports on college graduation and job attainment. A year or two ago, Carnevale was in the forefront of the “everyone must go to college” crowd. To illustrate, in 2011 he coauthored a paper called “The Undereducated American.”

But Carnevale’s reports are getting more nuanced as he digs into the numbers. Not long ago, the Center made a splash when he revealed that bachelor’s degrees in some fields are more likely to get graduates good jobs than others. And now he’s co-author (with Stephen J. Rose and Andrew R. Hanson) of a paper called “Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees.” The paper reports that certificates — vocationally oriented credentials from postsecondary schools, usually community colleges or for-profits — have been growing rapidly. They are awarded for short-term (often a year or less) education that prepares the student for specific jobs in fields from auto mechanics to office management.

And the authors see significant value in certificates. In other words, while Carnevale champions postsecondary education, there is a fair amount of leeway in just what that education ought to be. I agree.

Jane S. Shaw — Jane S. Shaw retired as president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy in 2015. Before joining the Pope Center in 2006, Shaw spent 22 years in ...

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