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Higher ed can help more young adults get good jobs by age 30, report finds

Higher ed can help more young adults get good jobs by age 30, report finds

Higher Ed Dive

Laura Spitalniak
May 3, 2023
Dive Brief:
  • If all eligible workers entered a bachelor’s degree program by the age of 22, roughly 765,000 more young adults would hold good jobs by age 30, according to a new report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
  • Georgetown researchers developed a policy simulation model that identified turning points in young adults’ lives that can elevate them to good jobs. Several of those focus on educational attainment, like starting a certificate or associate’s degree by age 22 or earning a bachelor’s degree by age 26 after previously working toward a certificate or associate degree.
  • Other turning points center on workforce development, such as specializing in career and technical education in high school and working a blue-collar job at age 22.
Dive Insight:
“Our research clearly indicates that the bachelor’s degree is still the most traveled pathway to a good job. But through this work, we also find there are alternative pathways to good jobs through career and technical education (CTE) and work experience,” Anthony Carnevale, director of CEW and lead author on the report, said in a statement.
The report defines a good job as one earning a minimum of about $38,000 per year for workers under age 45.
Combining the interventions, Carnevale said, can strengthen their efficacy.
For example, if eligible students not only entered a bachelor’s program by age 22 but went on to finish their degrees, 1.2 million additional adults would hold good jobs by age 30. That’s up from 765,000 if the students had only enrolled.
Bridging the gaps to good employment, however, is even more complicated than making the 10 changes recommended in the report available to everyone equally.
Almost every change recommended is likely to boost more men than women into good jobs, according to the report. The only exception is working in a STEM or another high-paying occupation at age 22.
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