Some good news. I last posted about how Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel (basically the company’s top lawyer), complained about not enough techies in the U.S. labor force. Microsoft, among others, actually has empty positions, since they can’t find enough qualified programmers, engineers, etc.
People can’t get jobs, and we have jobs that can’t be filled.
Well, it looks like it’s not quite as bad as we suspected. According to the Pew Research Center, the education level of the U.S. population (i.e., percent with college degrees) is still climbing, and at an all-time high:
…for the first time, a third of the nation’s 25- to 29-year-olds have earned at least a bachelor’s degree.
This figure has been rising for decades. It was under a fifth of young adults in the early ’70s; it’s now 33% for 2012. Good to see that it isn’t backsliding.
The Pew Research Center attributes this to both 1) the general, still-sought pay increase you get with more education, and 2) the Dec 2007-Mar 2009 recession convincing more people to boost their skills, education, and resumés.
Still, we can’t rest just yet. We need to do better. First, 33% with a bachelor’s degree still isn’t enough. Says Anthony P. Carnevale, director, Georgetown U. Center on Education and the Workforce:
The demand for college graduates has been increasing about 3 percent a year, while the supply has increased only 1 percent a year, which is why the college wage premium has increased so precipitously.
Second, it isn’t enough compared to our competing countries. For over a decade now, almost two, multiple European nations have been beating us in raising the education levels of their workforces. The Pew study continues:
…other advanced economies are registering similar or greater gains, leading experts and college presidents to question whether the U.S. has been losing its competitive position as the global leader in higher education.
And, of course, China is cranking out engineers at a far greater rate than we are. Sure, some Chinese “degrees” in engineering turn out to be equivalent to our Associates’ degrees, or certificate “degrees.” But even after you weed out the lesser Chinese graduates, the remaining numbers are huge.
Keep at it, America.