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Banking certificate drives low-wage jobs

Mount Wachusett Community College in Worchester, MA announced a new banking certificate program. The Certificate of Banking Fundamentals program is a 27-credit certificate that the community college developed to help address the shortage of bank tellers in the area.

Sounds good, right?

There is no doubt that the banks in the Worcester area need tellers. However, the solution to a teller shortage probably is less about education than it is about money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bank teller job requires no post-secondary education; it requires only on-the-job training. According to the current job postings on Indeed, bank tellers in Worcester start at $16-$17 per hour. That is $1.50-$2.50 less (per hour) than MIT’s estimate of a living wage in Worcester County.

A salary that doesn’t allow you to pay your bills, that commits you to taking a second job, or that forces you to work overtime to make ends meet is unattractive. Period.

Tuition at WMCC is $225 per hour, so a 27-credit certificate is going to run the earner upwards of $6,100, not including miscellaneous fees, books, and other related expenses. In other words, high-school graduates are going to pay more than six grand to earn a credential that they don’t need for the low-wage jobs they’re “training” for.

This is the perfect example of the kind of program the community college does not need to spend time or resources developing or running. Except that one of MWCC’s Board members is the CEO of a local credit union. Yep. One of the Trustees is wasting the resources of the community college to create an unnecessary certificate program to fill low-wage positions at his day job.

Banking certificate doesn’t serve anyone

The college press release points out that the student can earn an additional 37 credits (at the low, low price of $8,300+ dollars) to earn an associate degree in business. Lost in the fog is the fact that none of this makes any business sense whatsoever. Why would someone spend more than $6,000 to earn a banking certificate they don’t need for a job that won’t pay their bills, when they could just walk into pretty much any bank in Worcester and fill out an application? From a business perspective, doesn’t that make the most sense?

So I have no doubt that the banks would like a larger pool of prospective employees. However, they – above all other businesses – should understand that the rules of capitalism are always strictly enforced. After all, they understand the economy of shifting the burden of training new employees to the community college and shifting the burden of paying for training to the employees themselves. It’s surprising that the banks in Worcester don’t seem to grasp that if they want a larger applicant pool, they should simply pay their employees more.

Photo Credit: OTA Photos , via Flickr