U.S. Economy Demands Higher Skills and More Education
- 61 percent of U.S. employers say it is difficult to find qualified workers to fill vacancies at their companies.
- Middle-skill jobs, those requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree, are still the majority of jobs available in the U.S. labor market.
- The demand for more educated workers is growing. By 2018, 63 percent of all employment will require at least some college education.
- By 2018, only 10 percent of jobs will be open to those who fail to complete high school, and only 28 percent will be open to those with only a high school diploma.
- By 2018 we will need an additional 22 million new college graduates to fill the demand of the labor market. At current degree attainment rates, we will fall short of that number by at least three million postsecondary degrees and at least 4.7 million postsecondary certificates.
U.S. Economy Benefits from Investing in Low-Skilled
- If lower-educated adults were to complete an Associate degree and benefit from the typical average wage gain associated with it, the U.S. would experience an increase in personal income of $848 billion.
- By 2020, if 4 million dropouts earn a high school diploma, the net fiscal contributions to the federal government and state and local governments would exceed $25 billion annually.
- Closing the gap between higher and lower income students in terms of their access to and success in postsecondary education would generate over $250 billion in GDP and approximately $85 billion in additional tax revenue.
- Individuals with low levels of education are more likely to be unemployed.
- Higher-educated adults experience higher employment and home ownership rates, higher annual earnings, lower levels of incarceration, and decreased dependence on social support programs.
Individuals Benefit from Postsecondary Education
- Workers who attended some college or earned an Associate's degree earned 26 percent more than high school graduates.
- Students with at least some postsecondary education earn about $473,000 more than their less-educated peers over the course of a lifetime.
- Certificates in high-demand fields, such as health care or engineering, can result in greater earnings than a traditional two-year degree in another field.
- 43 percent of licenses and certificates earn more than an Associate's degree. 27 percent of licenses and certificates earn more than a Bachelor's degree, and 31 percent of Associate's degrees earn more than a Bachelor's degree.
- 85 percent of children whose parents had less than a high school education and 60 percent of children whose parents had a high school degree but no college lived in poverty, in comparison to 25 percent of children whose parents had some college.
85 percent of households with food-insecure children had a working adult, including 70 percent which had a full-time worker. Fewer than half of households with food-insecure children included an adult educated past high school.
Promising Policies and Practices Work
- Non-traditional students receive higher GPAs and have higher completion and success rates when given adequate supports.
- Adult students are more likely to persist in college than other students if given counseling and advising support combined with financial aid.
- Non-academic supports to assist students in facilitating social relationships, clarifying their aspirations, navigating the college environment, and simply making ends meet can boost student success and improve outcomes.
- Acceleration programs can reduce time spent on developmental education courses while also increasing course completion rates.
- Educational outcomes are higher for low basic skills that are taught in courses that integrate occupational skills training with academic content.
- Policies to simplify community college structure and reduce student confusion can result in lower dropout rates, higher gains in student achievement, and better student experiences.
- Programs that provide training to workers on an industry-specific skill set are successful at getting people into jobs, providing individuals with earnings gains, and reducing turnover and hiring costs for businesses.
Low-income and Low-skilled Youth and Adults Struggle to Access and Succeed in Postsecondary Education
Students Must Balance Family, Work, and School
- At least 2 million adults are students with children who work full-time and are enrolled in postsecondary institutions. Only 15 percent of these are enrolled full-time, and another 29 percent are enrolled half-time.
- 60 percent of community college students work more than 20 hours per week and over a quarter work more than 35 hours per week.
- Twenty-three percent of college students have dependent children, and thirteen percent are single parents.
- 43 percent of undergraduate students are employed part-time, and an additional 32 percent work full-time while balancing academics and obligations at home.
Students Face Access, Funding, and Completion Challenges
- At four-year schools, only 57.2 percent of full-time, first-time students graduate within six years. At two-year schools, only 27.5 percent graduate within three years.
- At least 56 percent of adult students are essentially ineligible for student aid except for very small amounts of Pell grants and loan dollars.
- Only one in five high school graduates from families with incomes less than $25,000 were highly or very highly qualified for college based upon their secondary school curriculum, compared to more than half of graduates from families with incomes greater than $75,000.
- Three out of every five students who begin an Associate's degree program do not complete. Students most often cite financial or employment stresses as their reason for dropping out.
- 43 percent of adults have only basic or below basic prose literacy, meaning that they are qualified to perform only simple or everyday literacy activities at best.
- Only three to four out of ten students who are referred to developmental education actually complete the entire sequence of recommended courses.
- Almost 60 percent of community college students take at least one developmental education course.
- Developmental education students at two-year colleges are 39 percent less likely than their prepared counterparts to persist and earn a degree or certificate.
- More than a third (36 percent) of college students who dropped out say that even if their tuition and books were fully paid for, it would be hard to return.
Current Education and Training Systems are Inadequate to Meet the Need
- Federal funding for employment and training programs has declined by nearly 70 percent since 1979, the peak year of federal investment.
- College costs have risen more than 400 percent in the last 25 years, while the median family income has increased less than 150 percent.
- In 1979, the maximum Federal Pell Grant award covered about three-fourths of the total cost of attending a four-year college. Today, the maximum award covers only about one third of the cost for tuition, fees, room and board.
- College graduates are almost twice as likely as high school graduates to receive formal training from their employers.
- Labor Department funding for programs like the Job Training Partnership Act and the Workforce Investment Act had seen a 33 percent decline since 1988.
- 14 percent of college students are enrolled less than half-time. However, in 2003-2004, of all Pell Grants received, only 2.1 percent went to students enrolled less than half-time.