Prospects for liberal arts graduates were already waning following the 1994 and 2001 recessions, and the 2008-9 recession really killed them. Businesses which used to hire Danish Literature graduates into entry-level management positions are now looking for grads with a more closely related degree. From the Lexington Herald-Leader:
By Bruce Schreiner | Associated Press | September 12, 2017 | 7:14 PM
LOUISVILLE (AP) — Gov. Matt Bevin bluntly suggested Tuesday that some academic programs on Kentucky’s college campuses have outlived their necessity in times of tight state budgets.
With a pointed jab at the job prospects of interpretive dancers, the Republican governor challenged public university boards and presidents to consider eliminating some courses that don’t produce graduates filling high-wage, high-demand jobs.
His message comes as the state tries to fix its failing public pension systems, and economists estimate Kentucky faces a $200 million shortfall when the fiscal year ends in mid-2018. . . . .
“If you’re studying interpretive dance, God bless you, but there’s not a lot of jobs right now in America looking for people with that as a skill set,” he said Tuesday.
There’s more at the link.
Part of the problem stems from the fact that professors of French Literature or Women’s and Gender Studies see themselves as part of major and important academic disciplines, but while a French Lit major might be able to get a job as a French language teacher, there simply aren’t any jobs for Women’s and gender Studies graduates outside of Women’s and Gender Studies professorships, and those are few and far between; the isolation of the academy and the business world is increasing, not lessening.¹
Governor Bevin was referring to Kentucky’s state universities,² and not private colleges; if a private college wishes to continue trivial majors with few job prospects, that ought to be their decision, though the states and federal government might consider whether students majoring in those fields ought to be eligible for government guaranteed student loans, given the possibility that such degrees might not lead to careers which will enable the students to repay the loans.
Bevin has made workforce development a priority of his tenure as governor. He said Tuesday he wants Kentucky to become the nation’s engineering and manufacturing epicenter, and urged the state’s engineering programs to embrace the challenge.
“I challenge you to say to yourselves, ‘If we’re graduating 250 people out of our engineering school … why is it 250 and not 1,000? And what are we going to do between now and 2030 and a whole lot sooner to make sure it’s 1,000?’ ” Bevin said.
Kentucky is a poor state, and the state legislature and Governor cut state funding for the commonwealth’s public universities by about $40 million in 2016, or 4.5%. There simply isn’t a lot of money available for luxuries, and the Governor has just defined academic majors which do not prepare university graduates for real world careers as luxuries. In that, he is right.
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.
¹ – I have said previously that no responsible human resources department or business executive should ever consider anyone who has majored in any field which concentrates on “social justice” or discrimination studies, because such graduates are walking, talking discrimination lawsuits just waiting for an excuse.
² – Full disclosure: I was graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1977.