A couple weeks ago, we talked to Bowling Green State University sophomore Brittany Knisley. She’s studying pop culture — yes, it’s a major at Bowling Green — in college, but says she’s not too worried about finding a job after graduation:
“Just the fact that you’re getting a college degree is something, because basically you need it to get a job anywhere any more.”
She’s half right.
In Ohio, the pool of new jobs requiring some kind of education after high school is growing. The pool of new jobs open to people with only a high school diploma — or less — is shrinking.
Researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce say that nearly 60 percent of job openings they expect to be created in the next six years will require education beyond high school. That trend will hold even as the Midwest’s economy recovers, the researchers say.
But just going to college won’t guarantee you a steady job, they say:
Occupations matter, industries matter, and degree types matter. Employment mismatch highlights the fact that colleges need to better streamline their programs so as to emphasize employability—both in fields and in jobs that pay a living wage.
The Georgetown researchers say the answer is for states to create create better data systems that help students make better decisions and public agencies better allocate resources:
We need to build analytical capacity to effectively answer the questions that educators, parents, young adults, and workers have been asking about what specific educational programs and degrees mean for their specific careers. The mechanism required should connect the college supply engine (transcript data), workforce development (unemployment wage records), and opportunities in real time (current job openings).
That echoes Gov. John Kasich’s ongoing efforts to tighten the connection between business needs and workforce education in Ohio.
But if you’re going to be looking for a job in Ohio over the next decade or so and want some practical advice, here are two predictions to keep in mind:
- Overall employment growth in Ohio is likely to be much slower than the national rate, the Georgetown researchers say. So finding a job in Ohio could be harder than finding a job in states with more rapid job growth.
- The “high-wage” jobs that are projected to see the biggest increases in demand include registered nurses, customer-service representatives, truck drivers, accountants and licensed practical and vocational nurses.
Still, as our pop culture major points out, some college students focus on acquiring analytical skills in college over picking a major that comes closer to guaranteeing them a steady, well-paying job:
While some students receive higher education to bring in “big fat paychecks” with a specialized profession, Popular Culture students are, in fact, picking up an array of skills and facilities, such as critically thinking about and analyzing the things that make a people, well, a people…
Past graduates from BGSU, with a degree in Popular Culture, have claimed occupations such as the curator of Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and a prominent writer for Marvel Comics in New York City, among others…
Museum curators and writers (or journalists) don’t appear on lists of the fastest-growing, high-wage occupations in Ohio.
StateImpact Ohio commenter Lisa Regula says that’s just fine:
Let’s remember that colleges and universities are there to offer a liberal arts education — not job training. I think it’s great that students are learning and being exposed to a wide array of topics, that’s what education is about. If you’re in it just to get a job, go to a vocational school, certificate program, or an apprenticeship program. It’s time we stop considering college just a way to get a job.
Not so fast, says commenter Swishberg:
Try telling that to parents. Why spend a fortune if you can’t pay it off?