Signaling or human capital?

Is there any way to sustain the current revenue model of higher ed?  How about firefighters?  You can read this story as illustrating human capital theories of education, signaling theories, or both:

“We still put out fires with water,” said Deason, who is also a lieutenant and paramedic at a fire department in Homewood, Ala. But fire companies these days “need people who are a little more advanced with their education.”

As a result, college degrees that are not fire-related can also help. Deason and Crowther said fire departments increasingly want career employees who have strong critical thinking skills, and who can write grants or do public speaking, particularly as they progress to leadership roles.

Two other drivers of the growing higher education demand among firefighters are the recession and colleges’ online offerings. Purchasing and budget decisions are more important than ever, as most municipalities have tight finances. And financial and technical know-how helps when considering big expenses, like the $675,000 fire engine Deason said his company recently bought.

… In the future, he said advanced degrees will probably be an “absolute requirement” for most chief positions.


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