Study: Increase in College Attendance Not Enough for Future Workforce Needs

business graph A new report by the Lumina Foundation revealed that while more and more Americans are attending college, this increase is still not enough to meet the future skilled workforce needs. The report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, found that 38.7 percent of working-age Americans (ages 25-64) held a two- or four-year college degree in a .4 percent increase from 2010and a .6 percent increase from 2009.

“Research tells us that 65 percent of U.S. jobs will require some form of post secondary education by 2020, yet fewer than 40 percent of Americans are educated beyond high school today,” Jamie P. Merisotis, president and CEO of Lumina, said. “Our pace of attainment has been too slow and America is now facing a troubling talent gap. If we intend to address this problem, new strategies are required and a heightened sense of urgency is needed among policymakers, business leaders and higher education institutions across our nation.”

The report also showed significant and ongoing  race, income and other socioeconomic gaps in educational achievement.

Key findings include:

  • 59.1 percent of Asians have a degree compared to 43.3 percent of whites, 27.1 percent of blacks, 23.0 of Native Americans and 19.3 of Hispanics.
  • The highest attainment rate for 25- to 29-year old Americans is among Asians at 65.6 percent, followed by non-Hispanic whites at 44.9 percent. The lowest  attainment rate for younger Americans are African-Americans (24.7%),  Hispanics (17.9%)  and for Native Americans (16.9%).

“This is an intolerable situation,” Merisotis said. “We certainly must close these gaps to meet the attainment levels that our nation needs. But the fact that these racial achievement differentials even exist must be rejected on both moral and economic grounds, given the increasingly severe consequences that come with not having a degree beyond high school. Our democracy and our economy are ill-served by a system that fails to effectively tap all of our available talent.”

The report even detailed which states had the highest and lowest number of residents with degrees in 2011:

Top 10 states by degree attainment in 2011:

1. MA – 50.8%
2. CO – 47.0%
3. MN – 46.6%
4. CT – 46.4%
5. VT – 46.2%
6. NH – 45.8%
7. MD – 45.4%
8. NJ – 45.1%
9. VA – 45.0%
10. ND – 44.7%

Bottom 10 states by degree attainment in 2011:

41. IN – 33.8%
42. OK – 33.0%
43. TN – 32.1%
44. AL – 31.9%
45. KY – 30.8%
46. MS – 30.3%
47. NV – 30.0%
48. AR – 28.2%
49. LA – 27.9%
50. WV – 27.8%

 

in Labor Statistics]
Shala Marks
Shala Marks is an online editor and writer for Recruiter.com. Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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