Colleges Need to Ramp Up for the Recovery


America’s post-secondary education sector needs to ramp up for a future economy that will be increasingly reliant on workers who have at least some college training, according to the preliminary conclusions of a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.

The Obama administration is “correct to invest now in increasing post-secondary education degrees,” researchers said, given that the economic recovery is expected to resume in 2011. By 2018, the study found, there will be 30 million “new” and “replacement” jobs that will require some college or above.

“The recovery is coming and by our projections the supply of college-educated workers will not meet the labor demand,” the study said. “This is not the time to disinvest in higher education.”

The study authors conceded that these projections are based on educated guesswork. In forecasting a growth in jobs starting in 2011, researchers relied on historical data that tell them how economic downturns and recoveries typically play out.

“We know we’re going to get out of it,” Nicole Smith, senior economist with the center, said of the current recession. “The question is when and how best to prepare [for] when we’re out of it.”

The recovery’s job growth, she predicted, will be fueled by the health, education and finance industries.

The overall percentage of the workforce that will require some college or above is expected to increase to 62 percent by 2018, up from just 28 percent in 1973, the study found.

“The demand for an increasingly skilled and educated workforce is growing steadily,” the report said, so “unless we increase output from postsecondary institutions, the demand for college talent will exceed its supply.”