Posted on 04/10/2012 at 09:59 AM by Global Reach

Education,workplace training, and workplace technology tend to be sequential and complementary in producing productivity and earnings. Good pay and benefits are linked closely to these three factors according to Carnevale, Smith & Strohl (2010).  Post-secondary education has become the threshold requirement for a middle-class family income. But what does that mean at a time when economists fret that the American middle class is actually shrinking? In 2007, education distribution across household income shows that it is becoming increasingly difficult for workers to get into the middle-income bracket.  Only 45 percent of those with a high school diploma, some college, or an associate degree enter into the middle-income class. Fifty-nine percent of high school dropouts, 35 percent of high school graduates and 29 percent of those with some college are classified as low-income (2007). They are on the down escalator of social mobility while those with a bachelor’s degree or higher are  predominantly in the middle- to upper-income class.

Another factor that is becoming evident during this time of recession in our country is that workers with college degrees had the lowest unemployment rates over the past three years, thus possibly being sheltered from some of the negative effects of the recession. It is anticipated that the depressed labor market probably will not recover its former vitality until 2015. In light of this, it becomes even more important for students to research, plan and prepare for the reality that jobs in certain areas may be difficult to come by, even with a college degree. Some of the top occupations for job openings by educational level are:
•    Master’s Degree or Higher: Life & Physical Scientists; Social Scientist & Technicians; Legal Occupations; Education Occupations; and Architects & Technicians.
•    Bachelor’s Degree: Financial Specialists; Architects & Technicians; Computer & Mathematical Science Occupations; Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations; Business Operations Specialists.
•    Associate’s Degree: Engineers & Technicians; Healthcare Practitioners and Technical Occupations; Healthcare Support Occupations; Installation, Maintenance, & Repair Occupations; and Protective Service Occupations.
•    Some College, No Degree: Protective Service Occupations; Office & Administrative Support; Healthcare Support Occupations; Personal Care & Service Occupations; and Sales & Related Occupations.
•    High School or Less: Farming, Fishing, & Forestry Occupations; Building & Grounds Cleaning & Maintenance Occupations; Construction & Extraction Occupations; Transportation & Material Moving Occupations; and Food Preparation & Serving Occupations.

While this lists top occupations, this does not mean there are job openings in these areas. For instance, when you research jobs in the area of Fishing and Forestry, you will see that in 2008 there were 207 people employed in that area in Iowa. In 2018, it is anticipated that there will be 204. So while some of these occupational areas look great for students as they are doing their research and making decisions about whether college is an option for them or not, they really need to consider the following factors:
•    Will jobs in this area be increasing or declining?
•    Will the jobs they are looking for be available in our region or will they need to move to a different region, state or country?
•    Is the average median wage one that will support themselves and their families?
•    Is there opportunity for advancement?
•    Do the employers in this area usually provide continued training and education?

“Help Wanted:  Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018”, Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, Center on Education and the Workforce, June 2010.  Georgetown University.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-2011.

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