Early tech training: Some kids could bypass college

Updated: Sep. 21, 2019 at 10:51 AM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - This week, C Spire and the Mississippi Children’s Museum hosted the second annual C3 coding challenge. It’s meant to encourage and inspire students of all ages to go after a degree or career in I-T and computer science. But does that have an impact on their higher education?

Education in the field of technology is starting younger and younger, and is putting some young people in a position where they’re very proficient, even as high school students. In some cases, advanced enough that they can pass by college for a well-paying job.

“We really need to be preparing people at every age for the jobs of the future. We readily recognize that there are some great career paths that don’t require a 4-year degree," said Dr. David Shaw, Provost at Mississippi State. "It’s really incumbent on all of us to help people be prepared for jobs in the very best ways they can, whether that’s a high school education, community college education, or a 4-year school.”

Young people bypassing college for high-paying skilled jobs is no new phenomenon, though. Trades such as welding, HVAC, cosmetology, some health care jobs, and engineering and construction-type careers have been offered by community colleges and trade schools for years.

“It gives them an opportunity to make a decision on which route they really want to go, because some people want to go to traditional education, but some of them today really want to come here and do the trades,” said Ralph Fitzgerald, Regional Director for Delta Technical College. “There are so many great opportunities in the trades right now.”

Both Shaw and Fitzgerald say traditional higher education and jobs that forego that step can actually complement each other.

“I just really believe that the trades and traditional education go hand in hand, it just depends on the route the student wants to take,” said Fitzgerald.

“We want to construct things so that later in life we can take students or adults that have taken a 2-year degree, and later on in their life they can come back for a bachelor’s degree without having to start over again,” said Shaw.

Mississippi State will begin that program in January 2020.

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