Friday, September 27, 2013

Stop the brain drain


    A college or technical school degree has quickly become the new standard for success in the U.S. workplace. However, new Idaho education data shows that fewer than half of the state’s 16,647 grads continued their education after high school.
    While the fact that the state is now willing and able to collect this data is good news, what the data shows is not.
    Just 48 percent of Idaho high school grads go on to colleges or universities. No one knows why the rate is that low compared to the 2012 national rate of 66.2 percent calculated by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
    Furthermore, no one knows what happens to the other 52 percent of Idaho high school students after they graduate. The state says it will to work with the Idaho Department of Labor to try to find out.
    The facts about higher education and jobs contrast starkly with the oft-stated belief that college degrees are overrated and that not everyone needs one. Various analyses show that more than 60 percent of jobs require a college degree today as opposed to just 28 percent in the 1970s.
    Not only do individuals need higher education, the state of Idaho needs to make sure they get it.
    Study after study has shown that people with college degrees earn up to 84 percent more in their lifetimes than high school grads. That makes them more financially secure, which benefits their families and communities. It makes states with better-educated populations more likely to be prosperous.
    New technologies have made nearly every industry more efficient and productive, which means that while companies may need fewer workers, the remainder must be more highly skilled to manage technology and to use the systems that make them efficient.
    Idahoans have never been wealthy compared to residents of others states. However, they surely do not need to become poorer.
    Now that the state has the data, it quickly needs to draft plans to ensure that Idaho doesn’t become more famous for its poor than for its potatoes.




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