Thursday, September 13, 2012

More Proof that Education is Vital

By Ranada Robinson, Senior Project Associate.

How many times have you heard that education is vital to getting a good job? How many times have you heard that in this day and age, a person needs at least an undergraduate degree to make it? Well, a new report from the Brookings Institute provides more evidence that these assertions are true.

Key findings include:

  • Metro areas with higher levels of educational attainment have experienced lower unemployment rates.
  • There are a lot fewer job openings for the average unemployed worker with a high school diploma or less than there are for the average unemployed worker with a college degree or higher.
  • Across the board, (understandably due to the Great Recession) there are fewer job openings for the average unemployed worker regardless of educational attainment in 2011 than there were in 2007.
  • The increase in supply of highly educated workers lags behind the increase in demand for those workers.
  • Metro areas with larger education gaps have experienced lower rates of both job openings and job creation.

These statistics just underscore the importance of evaluating workforce development and the talent pipeline in communities in which we work. Here at Market Street, when we assess the competitiveness of a community, we include indicators such as educational attainment, number of degrees conferred, the types of degree and certificate programs available, high school programs that guide students into fields that support the existing job base in the community, workforce development programs available (which may include retraining programs for workers who need to shift their skill sets), and even what we call workforce sustainability—where we look at the ratio of young professionals (25-34) to experienced professionals nearing retirement (55-64) in a given business sector. Communities have to be cognizant of what it takes to not only attract and retain workers with the skills needed to perform the jobs present in that community, but to also be proactive in developing homegrown talent. Now, more than ever, we need to make sure that the supply of workers better match the demand for them.