‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’

by Grace

“College for all” is being promoted by many, including President Obama, as being instrumental in ensuring a bright economic future for our nation.

“We are hurtling into a future dominated by college-level jobs, unprepared,” said Georgetown’s Carnevale. 

But when I look at the actual numbers of the fastest growing jobs, I see that we may be “overeducating” our future workforce.

Source: The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP)


Did you notice that 60% do not require a degree?

I don’t know about you, but I was shocked by the “fastest growing” bar. This is typically one of main planks of the “more college” crowd, but even among these jobs, 60% won’t require a degree.

“College for all” is not supported by Paul Barton’s data

Conventional wisdom has it that the demand for workers with college degrees is growing rapidly in the United States and will escalate. But the issue of what job qualifications will be important in the future and for whom is complex, with several threads of argument intertwined. First comes the very important question of how an individual can best prepare educationally to do well in the future labor market. Coupled with that question is the need for citizens to have an equal opportunity to attend and complete college, such access being key to the nation’s major problem of income inequality among racial and ethnic groups. Second is the question of how many college graduates the nation needs to produce, and with what skills, to ensure our national prosperity in an age of rapid technological change, globalization, and strong international competition….

Nevertheless, compelling evidence does not exist that there will be a rapid rise in the general demand for college graduates and a damaging shortfall in their supply sufficient to cause the United States to falter in the world economy….

The jobs that require postsecondary education credentials total 29 percent for 2004 and will rise to 31 percent by 2014. This is consistent with the very gradual increase in educational requirements that we have seen over the last six decades.

Related:  College Has Been Oversold

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One Comment to “‘How Many College Graduates Does the U.S. Labor Force Really Need?’”

  1. Count me in as part of the desperate crowd. Although I believe the credentialing monopoly that colleges currently hold will dissipate, I don’t know how and when it will affect my kids. So, I’m not giving up on the college thing for them.

    Brooks writes of the “inequalities of family structure, child rearing patterns and educational attainment”, and with our current K-16 educational system it seems the educational part is really the least important. Yet, it’s the easiest tangible component on which we can focus.

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