Giving Compass' Take:

• In this opinion piece from The Hechinger Report, author Andrew Hanson argues that working-class Americans will continue to fall behind economically unless the post-secondary education system sees substantial change.

• How can we construct a post-secondary education system that appeals to blue collar workers without sacrificing the ability to train recent high school graduates?

• To learn how we can confront prejudices through education, click here.

One of the central promises of education in America is the opportunity to cultivate the knowledge and skills we all need to get good jobs, pursue careers and live productive lives.

We invest trillions of dollars to fulfill this promise, yet half of Americans don’t earn a post-high school credential of any kind by the age of 30. Today, there are 32 million working-class adults in America who aren’t earning a living wage.

To make matters worse, these struggling Americans are also at risk of losing their jobs to automation. As the pace of change accelerates in the labor market, the current skills gaps will only continue to grow.

If we don’t act now, working-class Americans will keep slipping economically.

The challenge is that our learning ecosystem is not built to serve these Americans. Colleges are mostly designed to serve recent high school graduates, while employers focus their training on mid-career professionals.

In the workplace, most of the $170 billion that employers invest in formal training for their employees goes to workers who have had educational and professional success. Resources rarely flow to working-class adults who are unemployed, under-employed or no longer looking for work.

With a postsecondary education system designed to serve others, should any of us be surprised, then, that two out of three of these adults have no interest in going back to college, even though they know that further education would help them advance in their careers?

Read the full article about working-class Americans by Andrew Hanson at The Hechinger Report