The House of Representatives passed the 529 OPTIONS Act on Thursday, 417-3.

The media has concentrated on parts of the bill that helps people with retirement plans, but I believe the portion that allows people to use 529 savings on training and apprenticeships deserves more attention.

Luckily The Washington Free Beacon zoned in on this portion. Before this bill, families could only use 529 savings for college (emphasis mine):

The 529 reform has since been rolled into the SECURE Act, a bill aimed at shoring up multi-employer pension plans by easing access for small employers. It would allow 529 accounts to be used to pay for registered apprenticeship programs, as well as the materials, including books and equipment, necessary for the job. Offsetting these costs would help young people to enter the workforce with adequate training without the barriers and debt that have saddled recent generations. Norcross said policymakers should support all kids equally, not just the college-bound.

It sends the wrong message to youth and our families, since education should never be ‘one-size-fits-all,’” he said. “We need electricians and computer programmers, just like we need doctors and judges—and this bill levels the playing field for the students and future workers who start out in apprenticeships.”

Rep. Kelly told the Washington Free Beacon that lawmakers have “oversold the idea that a four-year college is the only way to get ahead.” Young Americans have taken out more than $1.5 trillion in student loans and default rates dwarf those the mortgage crisis that triggered the Great Recession in 2007. That problem has emerged in the midst of an ever-widening skills gap in the trades. Kelly spent his career in the automobile business and witnessed the high degrees of training necessary in the workforce. Congress needs to “take the blinders off” and see the “great salaries, wages, and benefits” available to young people who can learn a trade that does not require a college degree. Rather than pushing students into college to enjoy the benefits of 529 funds, lawmakers should encourage “family sustaining, community building occupations.”

“We used to call these guys grease monkeys, but they are highly-trained electronic technicians,” he said. “We should show [young people] that not only can they go to college, but there are other opportunities out there that don’t require a tax or debt burden.”

Mike’s QT on Thursday noted that major colleges have seen a decrease in enrollment.

Back in 2017, I blogged about how these industries have a shortage of workers. Bachelor’s degrees have saturated this country, which has made them almost useless. More and more people enter graduate school because of this, but even then, a person cannot receive a guarantee to land their dream job.

Pushing four-year colleges means society lacks a field of workers in areas we all need to keep our daily life going. Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe has pushed for people to embrace trade schools. He has a scholarship program for people who want to learn a trade because those job markets have a demand like carpentry, construction, plumbing, etc.

Research has shown that parents and high school students don’t understand the value in these jobs that range from welding to nursing:

The United States has 30 million jobs that pay an average of $55,000 per year and don’t require a bachelor’s degree, according to the Georgetown center. People with career and technical educations are actually slightly more likely to be employed than their counterparts with academic credentials, the U.S. Department of Education reports, and significantly more likely to be working in their fields of study.

PBS interviewed Fernando Esparza, a mechanic for Evolution Fresh, as he takes “a class in industrial computing taught by a community college at a local manufacturing plant in the hope it will bump up his wages.” That plant is California Steel Industries, where “some supervisors without college degrees make as much as $120,000 a year.” The company said that electricians could make money into the six figures as well.


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