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New study predicts shortage of college graduates


Friday, June 28, 2013

As the slower than hoped for economic recovery has left many recent college graduates mired in debt and working in jobs that do not require a college degree, there has been a somewhat heated conversation about the value of a college education. However, the position that college is not necessary could soon become less popular, according to the results of a study conducted by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, which indicates that the U.S. could experience a serious shortfall of skilled college graduates by 2020.

An urgent need for graduates
One of the study's key findings indicates that rapidly expanding fields such as healthcare, the sciences and engineering, education and community services, will all require workers with high levels of education. However, without major changes to the U.S. higher education system, the country stands to experience a shortfall of more than 5 million graduates in the next seven years, leaving many vacancies for skilled positions unfilled. Even in the best-case scenario, the looming retirement of many older workers will create additional pressures to find suitably skilled and educated professionals.

"If the U.S. Congress can deal with budgetary challenges, we are on schedule for recovery," said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Center for Education and the Workforce. "But we will still face a major shortage of college-educated workers especially as baby boomers retire."

Greater expectations
In addition to the predicted shortfall in college graduates, the study also revealed that overall requirements for many jobs will require more than a high school diploma. The report states that by 2020, around 65 percent of all vacancies will require at least some postsecondary education. An associate's degree will be necessary for an estimated 7 million jobs, while approximately 13 million vacancies will require candidates to possess a baccalaureate degree. Finally, 6 million positions will mandate that applicants have a master's degree or similar graduate-level qualification.

These trends will affect the workforce in more than half the states throughout the country. By 2020, 32 states and the District of Columbia will either meet or exceed the 65 percent mark when it comes to educational requirements for available jobs. The greatest concentration of jobs that require postsecondary education will be in the Northeast, especially in Washington, D.C.

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