The Georgetown University Center on Education and the workforce has just published a fascinating report entitled Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018:
The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that by 2018, we will need 22 million new college degrees—but will fall short of that number by at least 3 million postsecondary degrees, Associate’s or better. In addition, we will need at least 4.7 million new workers with postsecondary certificates…..
The shortfall—which amounts to a deficit of 300,000 college graduates every year between 2008 and 2018—results from burgeoning demand by employers for workers with high levels of education and training. Our calculations show that America’s colleges and universities would need to increase the number of degrees they confer by 10 percent annually, a tall order.
Their analysis suggests that most workers with a high school diploma or less are working in 3 occupational clusters that either pay low wages or are in decline. Job growth is to be found in those areas that require non-repetitive tasks, jobs that typically require some level of postsecondary education.
As noted above, the shortfall in postsecondary degree and certificate recipients will be very difficult to fill in. Given the constraints (both fiscal and mission) on the non-profit world of higher education, it is unlikely to be the major source of the needed additional graduates.
For-profit higher education institutions, because of their flexibility, costs, and access to capital, are likely to move most aggressively to provide the needed educational opportunities. Indeed, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, a recent Eduventures report predicts that :
For-profit universities will have 42 percent of the adult-undergraduate market by 2019, nearly doubling their current share…
By that time, for-profits will lead both public and private universities in the number of adults enrolled. They will have approximately 60,000 more adult students than will publics, and 800,000 more than privates.
I have not seen the report, but these predictions certainly must be based on analyses such as can be found in the Georgetown report. I made similar points with respect to the situation in California in an earlier post.
As the powers-that-be in Washington move to control some very real abuses by some members of the for-profit higher education world, let us hope that they note the critical role that that world will play in meeting the educational needs of the next decades. New rules should certainly address egregious behavior, but without destroying the badly needed innovation and drive that the sector brings to higher education.