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Globe Magazine

Putting college degrees to work

As many as 120,000 job openings are going unfilled in this state because employers can’t find qualified applicants. What has higher education done wrong, and what is it now doing to make things right?

Bob Britt goes to college every day not in a classroom building hung with ivy on a peaceful quadrangle, but behind the high-security gates of a noisy, sprawling factory studded with smokestacks that makes engines for F-18 fighter jets, helicopters, and electronic surveillance aircraft.   

After seven hours working on the shop floor, Britt and his fellow students gather to discuss the math and physics of precision manufacturing – blueprint reading, shop theory, geometric tolerance – not with tenured faculty, but with union machinists who have spent their careers at this Lynn plant.

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