In the work experience vs college experience debate, the former has won a powerful new advocate: JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon.

The Harvard Business School alumni said he wanted to see more of a focus in the education system on high school graduates landing jobs instead of being forced into further education.

Although Dimon paid his respect to America’s “wonderful” universities in an interview released over the weekend, the billionaire Wall Street titan said more emphasis should be placed on how well schools support students who want to go straight into the world of work.

“If you look at kids they gotta be educated to get jobs. Too much focus in education has been on graduating college… it should be on jobs. I think the schools should be measured on did the kids get out and get a good job?” Dimon told Indianapolis-based WISH-TV.

In the past few years approximately 60% of high school graduates have gone on to enroll in college—though that number dropped and then rose again since the COVID pandemic. And while landing a better paid job after graduation is often cited as one of the motivators for attending college or university, anecdotal and data evidence suggest this may no longer be the case.

Gen Z, for example, is increasingly realizing the world of work isn’t what they thought it was. Graduate Lohanny Santos recently went viral on TikTok for recounting her struggle to find a minimum wage role with two degrees, while employers are increasingly turning to skills-based hiring.

And while Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows earnings tend to be higher once you’ve achieved a bachelor’s degree, prospective students now also have to consider the cost of repaying crippling tuition loans.

Dimon pointed out that a 17-year-old bank teller could make $40,000 a year, adding: “And if you happen to have a family at 18 or whatever, you get $20,000 in medical benefit for your family. You can be a welder, you can be a coder, you could be cyber you could be automotive—all of those jobs are $40,000 to $60,000/$70,000 a year.”

“Jobs, jobs, jobs,” Dimon repeated. “There are a lot of efforts taking place around the country but I think we’ve fallen behind as a nation.”

Education shakeup advocate

Dimon has long been an advocate of shaking up the education system to introduce a greater focus on skills, previously lauding Germany’s apprenticeship scheme, for example.

And while the number of apprenticeship opportunities in America is growing—and is predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to continue to do so—the 600,000 individuals currently on such schemes are a drop in the ocean compared to millions of college undergraduates.

The price tag associated with high-calibre degrees is also going up—prompting some to wonder whether Ivy League qualifications are still worth the $90,000-a-year fees. While many experts told Fortune the value of such a degree warrants the eye-watering sum, individuals should be picky about which subjects they study if they want to go on to earn six-figure salaries.

Dimon’s future of work

The banking boss, who was paid a record $36 million for his work at America’s biggest bank in 2023, believes not only that the route to a career will change, but also that the nature of work will shift.

A cautious advocate of the benefits of AI, Dimon said last year he believes the technology will allow staff of the future to work 3.5 days a week instead of the traditional five.

“People have to take a deep breath,” Dimon told Bloomberg TV. “Technology has always replaced jobs. Your children are going to live to 100 and not have cancer because of technology, and literally they’ll probably be working three and a half days a week.”

The technology—which has allowed for the creation of services such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT—may be utilized by JPMorgan for a vast range of areas, Dimon added in the interview: errors, trading, research, and hedging to name a few—arguably illustrating fears that AI will take the jobs of human counterparts.

And while the billionaire boss of the New York–based bank also noted some employees’ lives will be disrupted by the technology displacing their roles, he said in JPMorgan Chase’s case at least, he hopes to “redeploy” any staff who are pushed out of a job by the tech.

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