New Report: Good Jobs that Pay without a BA

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Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a new report on the state of the nation’s workforce needs entitled “Good Jobs that Pay without a BA”. These jobs boast median earnings of $55,000 and range from manufacturing to the growing skilled-services industries.

Texas ranks second among the states for the most “good jobs”, which account for 40 percent of our total existing job count.  What does that mean for the Lone Star State? It means that our focus on college or career readiness has not been misguided. But we have even more room to grow.

We must put just as much emphasis on postsecondary education as we do on strengthening the high school diploma and what it takes to earn one.

It should be noted that this study is not suggesting that these “good jobs” can be filled by high school graduates without higher education. If national data holds for Texas, less than half of those jobs fall into that category. As such, we must put just as much emphasis on postsecondary education as we do on strengthening the high school diploma and what it takes to earn one.

That means more of our students need to complete some college coursework or obtain an associate’s degree. Fortunately, these options are already more affordable and are offered at community colleges throughout the state. Here’s where the work comes in: making sure the preparation for higher education is adequate and the pathways to gainful employment are clear.

We must abandon old ideas about preparation for careers after high school. The days of vocational education absent academic instruction are gone.

First, we must abandon old ideas about preparation for careers after high school. The days of vocational education absent academic instruction are gone. As technology creeps into basically every aspect of our lives, jobs are changing. Far more require higher-level math skills, rely on reading comprehension, and demand more complex technical skills.

That’s why we must continue to raise standards for high school graduation; low-skilled jobs are disappearing and are being replaced by more demanding, better-paying positions.

Second, stakeholders from across the spectrum need to come together to create a seamless pipeline between high schools, higher learning, and careers. This effort will require capable educators and instructors, informed counselors, and forward-thinking businesses. Only by working together can we achieve such a lofty goal.

In short, the “or” between college or career is rapidly becoming an “and” for most students, if they plan on earning good salaries.

In short, the “or” between college or career is rapidly becoming an “and” for most students, if they plan on earning good salaries. Our current system must adapt in order to give them all the tools they need to do both. It’s time to get to work, Texas.

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