Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America

Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America

Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America

Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America

Synopsis

Education, long the key to opportunity in the United States, has become simply essential to earning a decent living. By 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education or training. Teachers and civic leaders stress the value of study through high school and beyond, but to an alarmingly large segment of America's population--including a disproportionate number of ethnic and racial minorities--higher education seems neither obtainable nor relevant. Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America, edited by Laura W. Perna, offers useful insights into how to bridge these gaps and provide urban workers with the educational qualifications and skills they need for real-world jobs.

Preparing Today's Students for Tomorrow's Jobs in Metropolitan America probes more deeply than recent reports on the misalignment between workers' training and employers' requirements. Written by researchers in education and urban policy, this volume takes a comprehensive approach. It informs our understanding of the measurement and definition of the learning required by employers. It examines the roles that different educational sectors and providers play in workforce readiness. It analyzes the institutional practices and public policies that promote the educational preparation of today's students for tomorrow's jobs. The volume also sheds light on several recurring questions, such as what is the "right" amount of education, and what should be the relative emphasis on "general" versus "specific" or "occupational" education and training?

Ensuring that today's students have the education and training to meet future career demands is critical to the economic and social well-being of individuals, cities, and the nation as a whole. With recommendations for institutional leaders and public policymakers, as well as future research, this volume takes important steps toward realizing this goal.

Excerpt

Laura W. Perna

Although disagreeing about how much of an increase is required, most scholars agree that the United States must raise the educational attainment of its population in order to meet the knowledge requirements of future jobs (see Zumeta 2010 for a discussion of this debate). In Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, Anthony Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl (2010) attempt to quantify this need. They project that, by 2018, about two-thirds (63 percent) of all jobs (including both new and replacement jobs) will require at least some postsecondary education or training, up from 59 percent in 2008 and just 28 percent in 1973 (Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl 2010). Their projections further suggest that “most job openings for people with a high school education or less will be low-wage jobs, and many of these will be part-time or transition jobs” (Carnevale 2010: vii). Carnevale, Smith, and Strohl demonstrate in their chapter in this volume that workers with postsecondary education will have access to a wide range of occupations, whereas workers with no more than a high school diploma will be concentrated in blue collar, sales and office support, and food and personal ser vices occupations.

Rather than focusing on the magnitude of the required increase in college degrees, other reports call for better “alignment” between education and workforce needs, emphasizing the need for greater attention to the correspondence between what workers know and can do and the knowledge and skills required to perform available jobs. In Degrees for What Jobs?, the National Governors Association (2011) concludes from its review of survey and other data that “businesses and states are not getting the talent they . . .

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