Let’s Give it the Old College Try
With unemployment stubbornly stuck at about 8.5% and tuition costs continuing to trend upward, a common refrain that we continue to hear is, “is a college degree or credential really worth it?” Well, a new study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce answers this question. And the answer is a resounding “yes."
The study, entitled The College Advantage: Weathering the Economic Storm, analyzes job losses during The Great Recession relative to a person’s level of education. The researchers found that people with a four-year postsecondary degree or higher were almost entirely unaffected employment-wise. Meanwhile, people with only a high school diploma or less were hit remarkably hard, and may never recover.
Here are some of the study’s findings:
- Those with a Bachelor’s degree or better actually gained 187,000 jobs in the recession (Jan 2010) and have gained 2 million jobs during the recovery (Feb 2012).
- Those with an Associate’s degree or ‘some college’ lost 1.75 million jobs in the recession, but have gained back nearly all of them (1.6 million jobs) during the recovery.
- Those with a high school diploma or less lost 5.6 million jobs in the recession and have lost an additional 230,000 jobs during the recovery.
The report states that “All of the post-recession recovery in the job market has gone to workers with education beyond high school” and that “it is hard to expect any substantial job gains in the near future for job seekers with no postsecondary schooling.”
This is the reality of the world we live in. When the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) repeatedly state the need for a workforce ready for the 21st century economy, this is why. Once first in the world, America now ranks 10th in the percentage of young adults with a college degree while approximately 90% of the jobs in the fastest-growing occupations require some level of postsecondary education and training. This has to change.
Training workers for the actual needs of employers and increasing postsecondary completion rates for all students is not only vital to a growing economy, but also a person’s livelihood.
ICW will be hosting an event titled, Help Wanted: Addressing the Skills Gap on September 20 at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to address these issues and more. To register for this event, please visit the Help Wanted web page.
Mark D'Alessio is Manager of Communications for ICW.