A recent Georgetown University study says that by the year 2018, 62 percent of US jobs will require some college education, and more than half of all US jobs will require a college degree. If that doesn’t surprise you, it should!
Right now only 38 percent of U.S. adults ages 25-34 have an AA degree or higher, which ranks the U.S. 10th in the world. It also quite obviously falls far short of the need to meet Georgetown’s prediction about job qualifications. This means there will be a lack of qualified candidates to fill job openings in the future. Even today, baby boomers are retiring and coming back as contract workers and consultants because employers can’t find qualified people to fill their positions!
Is there an opportunity here? Well, as a friend of mine in Texas once said, “It doesn’t take the brightest Bubba on the back porch to figure that one out.” There is opportunity now, and there will be opportunity in the future. The question is how to position yourself to take advantage of the opportunities. Clearly, part of the answer is to make sure that you are educationally prepared to move up when the chance presents itself.
Not all higher education is found in degrees. There are many certificates available that demonstrate competence in a specific field, and in some cases a few well-chosen courses may provide the depth needed to advance your career. But the days of moving into the workplace and thinking that you can cruise along are gone. Even jobs in construction and mechanics are changing because of new electronic technologies, materials, and methods. The basics of changing a tire may be the same, but the sensors built into the wheel can change when and how it needs to be done. The process of nailing studs into a wall may not change, but the design and sealing of that wall are dictated by new energy efficiencies and may use new materials.
The smart move is to figure out the path to job security and advancement in your field, and then pursue it. If your employer pays tuition or provides other support for education, take full advantage of it! Only about 10 percent of all employees use tuition support programs which employers offer, so a lot of people are missing the boat. They could be advancing their education while the employer pays much of the bill.
Even if your employer does not have a tuition support program, you may be able to find inexpensive opportunities to add training or non-credit credentials that make you more effective in your job today and also prepare you for the future. And that’s what matters – where you’re going. You already know where you’ve been.