Good college courses for kids

If your student is deciding on a major course of study, the beginning pay in various careers may be of interest.

Jobs that are most in demand and pay more. They are technical felds requiring a specific degree, such as health care, engineering or computer science.

On average, these are the starting earnings of some degrees: chemical engineering, $63,773 per year, computer and information sciences, $58,677 and economics, $51,062.

Researchers for Money magazine say the visual and performing arts pay an average of $35,073 for the first year; English, $35,453, and liberal arts, $36,715.

On-the-job learning called most effective

August has become the new back-to-school month, usurping the title from September for kids in grade school and high school. Most universities and colleges still open their fall semesters in September.

That probably means that many of us are wondering whether we should be signing up for a college course, or some other type of class.

Textbooks and classroom learning have their place. They give people an overview of their work and why it’s important. Some technical courses actually teach skills that can be used on the job, or at least on some job if not your own.

Without detracting from the importance of education, training consultant Ram Charan says action is the real key to learning. He recommends building learning into the work. People learn more, says Charan, from active on-the-job training than from classroom instruction.

The Center for Workforce Development estimates that U.S. companies spend up to $50 billion a year on formal training, but that 70 percent of all workplace learning is actually informal, costs less, and is more effective.

In the real world of work, you often don’t know what you need to know until you need to know it. That’s where informal training comes into its own. It’s just-in-time learning, and that’s valuable. The return on investment is immediate for the company and the individual. It boosts morale, because people like to grow.

Charan also says a workplace full of people seeking and giving help to each other becomes a wellspring of ideas for continuous improvement.

Not taking any courses this year? That doesn’t mean you won’t be learning. In our organization, learning and building skills are a continuing process.