One thing that has come out of the recession is that many people are coming to agree that there’s a connection between the economy and a college or university education. That’s according to the Lumina Foundation for Education, an Indianapolis-based foundation that works to improve access to higher education and success with it. Having more college and university graduates could actually help the economy, the Lumina Foundation suggests.
It’s been common knowledge for some time that the higher an individual’s educational level, the more money he or she tends to make. Information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics also suggests that college and university graduates are more likely to remain employed in a down economy. Now, the Lumina Foundation report, issued in September 2010, notes that the gap in wages is growing as employers pay more for the skills and knowledge they need and good paying, low-skills jobs disappear.
Skilled workers are more productive and more innovative with products and processes that drive success in the areas of government, business and non-profits, according to the foundation report. We’re in a knowledge economy and shifting to a global economy where borders disappear and people become more mobile and more blended, the report suggests. As early as 2018, a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce study notes, some 60 percent of the country’s jobs are to require higher education.
The Lumina Foundation plans by 2025 to increase the proportion of Americans with an associate’s degree or higher to 60 percent. That’s almost 23 million more people with associate’s degrees or better than otherwise anticipated by then, the foundation report notes. In 2007, 37.7 percent of Americans in this age group had a two-or four year degree and, by 2008, that percentage grew by only.2 percent, according to the foundation report.
The foundation’s strategies are two-fold. They include increasing college and university completion rates and increasing the number of students who tend to be underrepresented in higher education – adults and students of color, for instance, as well as low-income and first-generation students. Given that some 85 percent of students attend public colleges and universities, the states that finance them and create policies and regulations are key to the foundation reaching its goals, Lumina Foundation Policy and Strategy Vice President DeWayne Matthews said.
The percentage of residents with associate degrees or better varies from state to state. However, many states have significant proportions of adults ages 25 to 64 who have attended some college, according to 2008 US Census Bureau figures in the Lumina Foundation report. The report recommends getting these individuals to complete their degree programs.
» Read more: Having A University Degree Is Beneficial In Today’s Economy