Why California is investing over $200 million in vocational education


More Americans are going to college than ever before. The most recent census found that 33.4 percent of adults over the age of 24 have earned a bachelor’s degree or more. Kurt Bauman, Chief of the Education and Social Stratification Branch for the U.S. Census describes this as, “a significant milestone” for the country.

For many, however, higher education remains a privilege that is financially inaccessible. One way students can invest in their futures without investing in a bachelor’s degree is through vocational education. By enrolling in vocational education programs, students can earn degrees in high-demand fields like nursing, business and engineering which can lead to high-paying jobs. Still, many students believe that a bachelor’s degree is the only path to success.

In order to change this, the state of California is spending $200 million to encourage more students to earn a vocational certificate instead of a bachelor’s degree.


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The U.S. Government defines vocational education as, “organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses which are directly related to the preparation of individuals in paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging occupations requiring other than a baccalaureate or advanced degree.”

These programs, offered by community colleges across the country, are by definition designed to help students find employment. Reports from the U.S. Department of Education indicate that people with vocational education have slightly higher rates of employment than those with academic credentials. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, there are over 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 a year and do not require a bachelor’s degree. The healthcare industry alone is creating millions of high-paying jobs that don’t require students to study for four years.

Despite the benefits of vocational education, it has yet to appeal to American students on a broad scale. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 8 percent of undergraduates are enrolled in a vocational certificate program. Derrick Roberson, 17, tells PBS, “All throughout high school, they made it sound like going to college was our only option.” Today, Roberson is training to be an electrician.

In many regions, vocational programs have even declined in popularity. For instance, in 2000, 31 percent of community college students in California took vocational courses. Today, only 28 percent of students take these courses.

Experts believe that students hesitate to enter vocational training programs in part because of fears that industries like manufacturing will replace workers with robots. Business consultant Sam Geil told PBS, “It doesn’t help when industry is moving out and laying people off.”


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Despite these fears, California is investing over $200 million in vocational education. Today, California Community Colleges is the largest provider of workforce training in the country. The state hopes to use the money to improve the reputation of vocational education and deliver it more effectively.

The New York Times points out that this kind of investment from the government helps corporations cut costs: “They want schools and, by extension, the government to take on more of the costs of training workers that used to be covered by companies as part of on-the-job employee development.” In other countries like Germany, companies are heavily involved in training workers.

Still, Andrew Hanson, a senior research analyst with Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce told Matt Krupnick, “Efforts like California’s to broaden the appeal are exactly what we need.”

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Wipro investing in tech to help Fortune 500 cos exploit, monetise data: CEO


Data is going to be the currency of the future and the company has invested heavily in it, Wipro CEO Abidali Neemuchwala has said.

“We are seeing a significant ability to transform customers in the data space, and we feel very upbeat about this because as you rightly said data is going to be the currency of the future and we are very heavily invested in this area,” he told PTI here.

When asked if Wipro had engaged start-ups to monetise data, which will create jobs and automatically check layoffs, he said, “The company has made strategic investments in about 12 startups and some kind of strategic alliance with another 20-22 startups, and out of them all at least 20 per cent of them are in data and data-related areas.”

Neemuchwala also said the company has invested in some very specific IPs which are internal company IPs, and also bagged a very significant deal with a customer couple of quarters back.

“They are in data business and we are using Wipro technology to help them support Chief Marketing Officers of Fortune 500 companies to utilise their data better and monetise their data better… So, we have leadership position in our analytic practice and our significant part of revenues comes from there.. We are seeing a significant ability to transform customers in data space,” he said.

Wipro President and Chief Operating Officer B M Bhanu Murthy said Wipro’s analytical business has grown significantly well this quarter.

To a query on the size of investment in data, Bhanu said the company’s investment in big data has been on a day-to-day discovery platform (DDP) which has gained significant traction in the last two quarters.

Bhanu further said the company is able to leverage DDP with a couple of its investments to help a lot of organisations mine huge data they collect and big data available externally, and hence it is seeing good traction and its investments are paying off through analytical.


Sarah Mason: Saltire Society investing in creative Scots

Piece from the Alasdair Gray exhibiton at the Saltire Society.

Piece from the Alasdair Gray exhibiton at the Saltire Society.

One of the Saltire Society’s essential commitments is to celebrate Scotland’s most creative individuals, people who challenge us to think in new ways, who have different approaches, who take risks, and who don’t give up.

In April 2016, we announced a £50,000 Inspiring Scotland ­programme of funding to offer encouragement and support to the next generation of creative Scots.

As part of this, we partnered with organisations such as Janice Parker Projects, Hands up For Trad, Youth Theatre Scotland and Fèisean nan Gàidheal. Among other initiatives, the Inspiring Scotland programme helped a young piper travel to Bulgaria to explore Balkan folk music, an architect go to Denmark to study new design models for an ageing population, an emerging director work at the Traverse Theatre, and the first Scottish visual artist to attend the International Studio & Curatorial Program in New York for three months.

The Saltire Society’s support of ­creative work could hardly be wider, yet we plan to continue to expand and evolve in our 81st year. 2017 will see the Inspiring Scotland Programme develop with new partners, and find those creative areas that would ­benefit from new investment.

Our first bursary in 2017 was announced on 21 March and sees a partnership with Alasdair Gray, one of Scotland’s most iconic and inspirational creative forces. Alasdair joined us as we launched the bursary and opened an exhibition of his work, currently running at the Saltire Society until the 28 April. (Call 0131 556 1836 to arrange a viewing).

The Saltire Society has had a long relationship with Alasdair Gray, who won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year in 1982 for his landmark book Lanark. He went on to win the Book of the Year again in 2011 for A Life in ­Pictures, one of only a handful of people to win the prestigious award twice. Alasdair also designed the ­covers for the Society’s Saltire Series of pamphlets, in which writers spark fresh thinking, ignite debate and challenge our orthodoxies through short essays on a diversity of topics.

Alasdair Gray encountered the paintings of Edward Munch as an adolescent. It changed his life. It gave him a sense of his own potential.

He said: “How wonderful to discover the works of a Norwegian artist who had lived in the industrial ­capital city of a modern nation smaller than Scotland, yet who painted it as grand and tragic, not boring or trivial.” Art can change your life.

The first Alasdair Gray Inspiring Scotland Bursary will be made to an emerging creative practitioner who demonstrates exceptional potential, and will be announced in November this year. More details about this can be found at saltiresociety.org.uk

The Saltire Society’s commitment to initiate and nurture creativity is growing.

If you would like to be part of the Saltire Society, check out our ­website and consider becoming a member. The Saltire Society is a non-political charity open to all.

Sarah Mason is programme director of the Saltire Society


It is prudent to pay off the most expensive loans before investing

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iStock image

I have a debt of around Rs.3 lakh on two of my credit cards, and I also pay equated monthly instalment (EMI) ofRs.15,000 towards my car loan. I am 41-years-old and earn around Rs.1 lakh a month. My monthly expenses areRs.75,000. What sort of a plan should I have so that I can first pay off my credit card debt and then work on buying a house in the next 5 years?

—Sanjiv Khatri

As you too realise, one should paying off the expensive loans first. And with credit card interest rates on outstanding amounts being one of the more expensive debts today, it is always prudent to repay credit cards at the earliest. This debt undoubtedly gets preference over investments.

You must pay the loan before you start investing.

With a surplus of income over expenses currently atRs.25,000, it is assumed that your expenses already cover the EMIs. You need to start repaying the maximum on your credit card loan.

Accordingly, this amount should be converted into an EMI of Rs.25,000 for the next 12-14 months. You may have to pay for 14 instead of 12 months because of the accumulated interest on your loan. Apart from this, if you have any extra amount in between, use it to repay the loan.

Second in line is your car loan. This also carries a high interest rate, though not as high as that of the credit cards. In some cases, car companies absorb a part of the loan cost, depending on the demand for a particular car. This is more like a marketing expense for them. Check if your car loan carries any pre-payment charge. If not, and the interest rate is higher than what you could earn in a reasonably secured asset, then consider repaying the loan.

Only after you have repaid your loans, especially the credit card loan, should you start investing for your house or any other investment goal.

You plan to get a house 5 years from now. Assuming that you devote one of those years to credit card repayment, there would still be around 4 years left to plan for the house.

Start with a monthly saving plan to create a cash-down fund for the property. In four years, you should be able to accumulate about Rs.12 lakh (Rs.25,000*12*4). Any increase in monthly savings over the next few years has not been considered; but it can add to the corpus. At an interest rate of 10%, the total corpus becomes Rs.14.8 lakh. The required amount depends on how much down payment you need for the house.

In the quest for earning more from the corpus, don’t get aggressive with your investments. Do consider equity exposure for your investment book, but its extent that should be based on your risk appetite. Also, as you have only a 4-year horizon, you cannot be aggressive with this investment. It can be built via a systematic investment plan (SIP).

Within your savings basket, don’t forget to start creating investment baskets for your other investment goals such as retirement, and also an emergency or contingency fund.