Education strong determinant with work success: Most jobless Ohioans have no more than a high school diploma

Hamilton Journal News - February 12, 2012

By Randy Tucker, Staff Writer 

Most labor experts agree that education is the strongest determinant for success in the modern-day workplace, and new government job forecasts indicate more education is better for job seekers.

Regardless of industry, the fastest growth is projected for occupations that require at least a master’s degree. Those professions will grow by 22 percent through 2020, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs requiring doctoral degrees will see the second-fastest rise, growing by about 19 percent over the next decade.

All occupations that require more than a high school education will grow faster than those that don’t; and wages will be considerably higher for those educated workers, according to the government report.

The outlook is bracing for a majority of the state’s nearly half-million jobless workers — most of whom lack college degrees.

About 43 percent of unemployed workers in Ohio had no more than a high school diploma in 2010.

Another 16 percent never received a high school diploma or equivalent, according to a recent report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

About 10 percent of jobless Ohioans have bachelor’s degrees and 3 percent have at least a master’s, but the vast majority of unemployed Ohioans do not match up well with the highest-paying and fastest-growing occupations.

“Where the economy is recovering, what we’re seeing is the jobs that are resurfacing aren’t the same as the ones we lost,’’ said Bill Even, an economics professor at Miami University who studies labor issues. “Part of the problem is that the workers without jobs don’t necessarily have the skills that the folks with the job openings are looking for.’’

While jobs that do not require degrees will continue to comprise the bulk of all new jobs created over the next 10 years — just over 60 percent — the low skill level required for those occupations will be reflected their median annual wages.

The median wage for workers with less than an associate degree ranges from $20,000 to $34,000 a year, the BLS reports. By comparison, occupations requiring at least a two-year degree bring median annual wages of $60,000 and higher.

The disparity in educational attainment and wages underscores the lopsided jobs recovery nationwide and in Ohio in which prospects for college graduates have gradually improved while workers without degrees continue to struggle.

“Unfortunately, not every person is a four-year school person,’’ said Gus DeLucia, team leader at the Dayton office of Belcan TechServices, an information technology recruiter. “Generally, the people we are employing have gone to at least a two-year school and often a four-year school.’’

Most of the jobs created in Ohio since the recovery began in 2009 have been in education and health services and professional and business services.

Ohio still has a vibrant manufacturing industry, but jobs are not as plentiful or pay as much as they did before the recession.

It is a situation that could keep many of Ohio’s displaced workers on the sidelines and create a persistent underclass of unemployed and marginally employed workers, said Hannah Halbert, policy liaison with Policy Matters Ohio.

The gap between educational attainment and available jobs “should be viewed as a call to action to boost educational attainment and to directly address our sluggish economy,’’ Halbert said.

She notes that without an educated and well-trained labor pool the state will struggle to attract and retain those employers who can offer the best jobs.

An increasing number of displaced Ohio workers are trying to reinvent themselves to fit in with the fast-evolving needs of the state’s biggest employers.

In 2010, about 20 percent of unemployed Ohioans who dropped out of the labor force said the main reason they were no longer looking for work was that they were in school or receiving other training.

Even without a degree, the days of graduating from high school and landing a well-paying job with no further training have virtually ended.

According to the state jobs department, 55 percent of all new jobs created in the next decade will require some form of postsecondary education.

“We are seeing an uptick in requests from employers, but they have specific skill-set requirements,’’ said Kathy Trautman of Manpower employment services in Dayton. “If it’s manufacturing, they’re not just asking for assembly or production people. There asking can you send me a skilled trades person who can set up the machine, program the machine, troubleshoot the machine and lead the team.’’

Education strong determinant with work success: Most jobless Ohioans have no more than a high school diploma

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