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Demand for educated workers could outstrip supply by 2018

New research suggests that demand for more educated employees might outstrip supply over the next decade, reports the Wall Street Journal. By 2018, the United States will see 46.8 million job openings, 63 percent—29.5 million—of which will require some college education. One-third, or 16 million positions, will require a bachelor’s degree or higher, according to a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Companies will seek 22 million new postsecondary degree-holders, but just 19 million or so will have earned an associate’s degree or higher by then, according to the report. The difference averages to a 300,000 annual deficit of college graduates between 2008 and 2018. The shift toward a “college economy” stems from a greater reliance on technology, which has recently replaced many blue-collar jobs: a change from 25 million jobs for degree-holders in 1973—28 percent of the work force—to 91 million in 2007, or 42 percent of the work force. Report authors Anthony P. Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl estimate that 45 percent of the expected 166 million work force in 2018 is expected to hold an associate’s degree or higher. “The implications of this shift represent a sea change in American society,” the report states. “Essentially, postsecondary education or training has become the threshold requirement for access to middle-class status and earnings in good times and in bad. It is no longer the preferred pathway to middle-class jobs—it is, increasingly, the only pathway.”

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