Interesting in a cool way, but sad, too, that we need college credentials to do anything anymore!
I think that this program and ones like it are replacing vocational training programs that once were offered high school. Looking at it this way, it seems less bad. The other thing that makes this program seem okay is that both BNSF and UP have significant operations based out of Sacramento, so ought to be a real industry need for a training program in the local area.Even if the degree doesn't bring a huge advantage in knowledge or skill, employers using this a signal for identifying applicants with a real interest in the industry may be less bad than a selection system in which the union is in control of who can be considered for hire. I am not sure how else the employer could identify quality candidates that want to have a focus on the railroad industry, which I imagine does require unique knowledge and skills (unlike Megan McArdle's discussion of office managers with BAs).That said, this program is another example of employers that are not interested in making human capital investments, at least not at the initial development level.Interestingly, California's community college system is funded as part of the state K-14 program rather than having an independent line item like the Cal State and University of California systems. While the cost of community college in California has doubled in two years, it is still under $1,500 per year for a full course load ($46 per credit hour).
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