Professor Andrew Sum from the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has done a great deal of research on the effect of the most recent recession on the youngest cohorts in our economy. (I wrote about other of his research here.)
A recent CNNMoney article highlighted some interesting data from Dr. Sum’s most recent research efforts. And it has to do with the ability of recent college graduates to enter the economy in jobs that require their degrees.
With unemployment still above 7%, it’s not hard to understand that young people armed with a newly minted degree and little experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs. People with degrees and lots of experience are having a hard time connecting to jobs.
While we know that the data regarding the lifetime earnings differential for college graduates is a compelling argument for college attendance, the “mal-employment rate” together with the student debt-load most graduating college seniors are burdened with might be making young people have second thoughts about investing in a four year degree. And that’s bad news.
The Lumina Foundation tracks our progress towards attaining the national goal that 60% of Americans obtain a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential by 2025. And in 2011, the last year for which the data are complete, the percentage of Americans between the ages of 25 and 64 with two- or four- year college degrees was 38.7%. Our goal is 60%. Our current level is 38.7%. That’s really bad news.
Add to this the expectation that 65% of U.S. jobs will require some kind of postsecondary education by 2020 – and it’s really, really bad news.
These are difficult data points at the intersection of jobs, education and the talent pipeline. And they should be motivating us – all of us, in or out of HR – to think better about our workforce. Our organization’s workforce and our nation’s workforce.
Mal-employment might be the least of our worries in 2020.