By now, you’ve probably seen the headlines and read the stories—America’s economy is booming. Just last month the national unemployment figures came in for May and the rate dipped to 3.8%—a level that ties a half-century low dating to 1969, and which economists consider to be “full employment.”
Equally encouraging is the fact that the current economic recovery is reaching communities that often lag behind. For example, the May unemployment rate for African-Americans hit an all-time low of 5.9%. For Hispanics, it was 4.9%—a tick up from its historic low of 4.8% in April. Here in Georgia the rate was also impressive by historical standards, with May unemployment dropping to 4.2%.
But with all of this good news comes some challenges. With our economy currently humming along at full employment, we’re facing tight labor markets and a demand for workers that outstrips supply. Even more concerning, we’re seeing a shrinking supply of the skilled labor needed to keep the economic engines firing on all cylinders.
So what’s the solution to producing a workforce with the needed skills to keep the economy on track? We believe the key is developing educational solutions that deliver a reliable pipeline of workers with appropriate skills to match the demands of a rapidly changing workforce moving into the second quarter of the 21st century.
For example, by the year 2025, 60% of jobs in Georgia will require post-secondary education, such as a graduate certificate, associate’s degree, or bachelor’s degree. However, only about 47% of Georgia’s potential workforce currently meets these educational criteria, creating a need for 250,000 additional credentialed or degreed employment candidates by the year 2025.
Clearly, there’s a gap we must bridge between education and jobs. Even the federal government recognizes this critical need, with the Trump Administration recently announcing a proposal to combine the departments of Education and Labor.
Here in Georgia, the Georgia Center for Opportunity is taking the lead in creating opportunities for delivering quality education opportunities that meet fast-changing workforce needs. On July 27, we’re partnering with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia to host “Staying the Course in College”—a half-day community conversation at Gwinnett Technical College on the importance of completing college.
Please join us as we discuss two of the biggest economic threats facing Georgia today—improving access to affordable college and meeting workforce needs. Admission is free, but registration is required to attend. Click here for details.