College does matter. That is if you want a good job in the future.
A new report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce finds that about 63 percent of the jobs created by 2018 will require workers with at least some college education. About one-third will require individuals with a bachelor’s degree or higher.
Why the boom in demand for more educated workers?
The fastest-growing industries are information services, professional and business services, financial services, private education, health care, and government and public education. Each of these industries has workforces dominated—75 to 90 percent—by workers with at least some postsecondary education, according to the report, Help Wanted: Projections of Job and Education Requirements Through 2018.
While there will still be jobs for those with a high school diploma or less (top industries for dropouts and high school grads are farming, fishing, and forestry) those positions will increasingly fail to pay enough to support a family or pay a living wage, the report concludes. By 2018, only 10 percent of jobs will be open to high school dropouts, while about 28 percent will be open to individuals with a high school diploma.
“The implications of this shift represent a sea change in American society,” the report reads. “Essentially, postsecondary education or training has become the threshold requirement for access to middle-class status and earnings in good times and in bad. It is no longer the preferred pathway to middle-class jobs—it is, increasingly, the only way.”
Here’s the problem: America is not on track to train enough educated workers to meet the need. The report finds by 2018 the postsecondary education system is projected to produce 3 million fewer college graduates than the labor market requires. To keep up, degrees need to increase by about 10 percent a year to eliminate the projected shortfall.
This report adds new fuel to the debate over the value of college that I wrote about last month (see post). If a college education is indeed so vital to the economy of the future, much needs to be done to make it more accessible, affordable, and achievable.
A version of this news article first appeared in the College Bound blog.