College degrees still matter, despite Georgia’s recent drop in enrollment

Georgia high school students get too little essential information from parents or school counselors on the connection between what they choose to study in college and what they will earn as a result, although the information is now available on the US Department of Education College Scorecard. For example, students planning to attend Georgia Tech may find that the median income for a computer and information services graduate three years after graduation is $110,089, compared to $69,552 for those who have a degree in radio, television and digital communications.

Georgetown research reveals the best prospects for college graduates in science, technology, engineering and math, with nearly 80% in good jobs, defined as paying at least $45,000 in mid-career. On the other hand, young workers who majored in the arts, liberal arts, and humanities are the least likely to land good jobs.

ExploreSonny Perdue says Georgia needs to sell the value of his college degree

Carnevale predicts there will be 171 million jobs in the United States in 2031, an increase of 33 million from the pandemic’s plunge to 138 million jobs in March 2020. Thirty percent of those jobs will be available for high school graduates; another 30% will require intermediate skills that require more than a high school diploma and less than a bachelor’s degree; and 40% will go to those with a bachelor’s or graduate degree.

But Carnevale has caveats: The majority of jobs for college-educated workers will be well-paid, compared to only 20% to 30% of jobs for high school graduates. And those higher-paying positions are most often men in construction-related industries, who are on the verge of a windfall from President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill.

“In every state and in every county in America for the next seven to ten years there will be one ribbon cutting a week,” Carnevale said. Despite the presence of an electrician or two during the ribbon cuttings for the press photos, Carnevale said: “It’s not real. It’s a town of boys. (Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics supports his comment; 1 in 57 working electricians in America is a woman.)

Carnevale noted that many more workers will be hired to build or repair roads, bridges, ports, power grids and broadband initiatives than to maintain them once the projects are complete. The United States has failed to retrain workers stranded by a downturn in its industry. “We don’t have programs where you can be out of work and supported for two years so you can be retrained. It’s not us. This is Germany,” he said.

This demand for construction labor does not alter the central fact, Carnevale said, “that the baccalaureate is the locomotive, it is the engine of the train.” The message to high school students that a college degree isn’t essential to earning a living wage is true, he said, but overstated.

“It’s a time – it’s not a terrible time – where a lot of people are going to be educated and get decent jobs. It’s not going to be white, middle-class kids. These kids are going to college,” Carnevale said.

Politicians who declare at their rallies that not everyone needs a college degree will get plenty of nods from their audiences, Carnevale said. “But what people in the audience want to say is that other people’s kids don’t need to go to college. Their children do.

Julio V. Miller