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Projections of Job and Education Requirements Through 2018

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June 22, 2010 08:05 pm

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projections of jobs - june 22For several years, the Alliance for Excellent Education (the Alliance) has been beating the drum on the potential economic gains of a college- and career-ready education and the economic costs resulting from the nation’s high school dropout crisis. Last week, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (the Center) made a similarly powerful case that policymakers, as well as all members of society, should heed.

On June 15, Anthony Carnevale, a member of the Alliance’s President’s Policy Council, and his colleagues at the Center released a state-by-state report forecasting the educational needs of the job landscape through the year 2018. The report, Help Wanted: Projections of Job and Education Requirements Through 2018, highlights the growth of jobs by education level in every state and the District of Columbia.

To those of us following education and economic trends, the findings are not surprising. It is projected that, by 2018, 63% of all jobs will require some level of postsecondary education. There will still be jobs for those who do not graduate from high school, but those jobs will continue to decline in each state. The report also provides state-by-state information on the number of jobs forecasted in 2018 by education level and the occupations that are increasing or decreasing in demand.

The Center’s Help Wanted report is in line with findings from another report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) titled Occupational Employment Projections to 2018. The BLS report provides several important considerations for policymakers, one of which is that high-wage, high-growth jobs in the next eight years will require some form of postsecondary education; at the same time, most high-wage jobs that see declines require lower levels of education.

From there, it is an issue of supply and demand. If the nation’s high school dropout rate continues to hover around 30% (around 50% for minorities), how will it be possible to fill these high-wage, high-growth jobs with qualified applicants? Moreover, what will happen to families who were previously able to support themselves on salaries from jobs that did not require a high school diploma? Will more families fall into the category of lower middle class or poverty? What effects will that have on crime? What kind of pressure will that place on income-contingent entitlement programs like food stamps and public housing?

Before policymakers put these fears aside as something too far down the line to worry about, they should take note that beyond the economic and moral imperative to act immediately, these findings and projections are only four election cycles away.

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