Workforce Development in the Valley

DebSF -- December 27th, 2008

UVA’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Development has just released a report projecting job growth statewide and the relevant educational requirements VA will need to provide to meet that growth. With both state and local unemployment rates steadily rising, it’s timely and useful; at just 2 pages the report is packed with info.  Some takeaways after the jump:

  1. VA employers are not expected to increase the demand for BA and BS degrees very much.
  2. Enrollment will increase in the community college system due to increased area unemployment and decreased ability to afford 4  years of tuition at 4-year institutions.  Locally, BRCC expects to take on more students in a time of pretty severe budget cuts, which means increasing class sizes and fewer options in terms of course scheduling.
  3. Statewide,  curricular expansion ought to be in workforce development rather than primarily the academic; occupation/technical probably should continue to grow moderately, especially network analysis.  Also, there is an increasing need for workers who have basic workplace readiness skills, including consistent attendance and a positive attitude.  These kinds of skills are also good predictors of success in 4 year college programs as well as, obviously,  success in the workplace.
  4. The disproportionate success rates of males vs. females is formally being recognized as a problem.  Young men are entering the workforce with less education than their female peers or their parents. According to the report, thirty-nine percent of women age 25-34 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31 percent of men. Eight percent of women age 25-34 lack a high school diploma, in contrast to 13 percent of men. Not only are men falling behind women of their own age, they are failing to achieve the education levels of their fathers’ generation. Thirty-one percent of young men have a bachelor’s or higher degree, compared to 38 percent of men age 45-64.  JMU, EMU and BRCC  are all about 60% female, and the trend is state and nationwide.
  5. Immigrants are continuing to enter the state, and are disproportionately at the extreme ends of the educational distribution. Forty percent of those who entered the country since 2000 have a bachelor’s degree and 44 percent have less than a high school diploma. Immigrants who arrived since 2000 have more education than those who arrived in the 1990s.

6 Responses to “Workforce Development in the Valley”

  1. Marty says:

    My wife received her MBA from JMU earlier this month at December graduation. My parents, in-laws, and I were amazed at how many females were graduating compared to males. It’s just a guess, but I would say it was 80% female.

    I haven’t really read up on it, but anyone know why this is becoming a nation-wide trend? I’m curious.

  2. Renee says:

    Good question – I’m just theorizing here, but in this economy, I’d think a lot of people want to maximize their income while minimizing their expenditures. With the cost of university education increasing all over the country, more people are attending 2-year community colleges or trade schools. I’d guess that more women are staying in 4-year colleges than men because of perceived gender differences in professions.

    For instance, some good-paying and/or respected jobs that don’t require an advanced degree “for men” (of course, women can do these jobs too, but you know what I mean) are: mechanic, computer technician, hvac or plumber, policeman, military, etc. Some good-paying and/or respected jobs “for women” are: nurse, teacher, retail manager, designer. The jobs women likely look at first require (or pay better) with a degree, where there are plenty of jobs “for men” that don’t require a degree.

    If you can get a respectable job without spending $50000+ to get a degree, it makes sense to do that nowadays. Of course, I am a proponent of college education, since the long-term income potential is higher, but with costs rising, and it being more difficult to get a loan lately, etc. I can see why many people aren’t going straight into a 4-year university.

    On another note, I’m not sure JMU is a good indicator of the whole country since there are so many women there to start with :)

  3. Scott Rogers says:

    DebSF — When I read this…

    The disproportionate success rates of males vs. females is formally being recognized as a problem.

    …I was expecting a staggering difference between the percentage of males/females having college degrees. But when I read this…

    According to the report, thirty-nine percent of women age 25-34 have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 31 percent of men.

    …I was surprised that the difference was only 8%. I suppose we would expect it to be equal percentages (31% and 31%, or 38% and 38%), and thus an 8% difference is dramatic?

    Do you know if this is now being seen as a problem because of the 8% (i.e. anything above 5% is a big problem), or because the 8% is a dramatic change from other recent indicators?

  4. JGFitzgerald says:

    Roughly, members of the 25-34 cohort with degrees are 56 percent female, 44 percent male, a difference of 12 percent.

    Much of the problem is the direction of the tendency: JMU, for instance, was 54 percent female in 1979, 60 percent now, a tendency matched by other schools. (At least one college has seriously considered affirmative action for underachieving males.) Think of that 12-percent gap growing to 20.

  5. Deb SF says:

    From what I’ve been hearing, Scott, part of it is the nationwide trend in enrollment and graduation rates that Joe mentioned above. Some of the divergence in gender achievement is also connected to other measurements, like GPA, participation in stuff like honor societies and other clubs, and additional measures of milestones and success in college such as the amount of time it takes to complete a degree.

    There’s also a concern that there’s a link between this gender differential and the growing divergence in college attainment (Associate and Higher) between younger and older adults in the US. Compared to other OECD countries, the US is experiencing declining competitiveness in education. In most OECD countries, a higher percentage of young people have earned degrees than has the older population, so the population, on average, gets more educated as time goes on. Only the US and Germany have a higher percentage of older people (the 45-54 year old population) with college degrees (2 and 4 year) than younger people (25-34 year olds). Worrisome for long-term global competitiveness. Details can be found a ton of places on the web; this presentation is just one place you can see all the data; slide 6:

    Check out slide 51 in this presentation, too, on the Educational Attainment of 18 to 64 Year Olds – Total U.S. Population vs. the Prison Population and tell me if the gender differential matters here:


  6. Thanks for those links DebSF. Good info!

Reader Tweets

Latest Flickr photos in the hburgnews Flickr pool
Announcements & Press Releases
  • Friendly City Grand Opening Set for July 9

    Friendly City Food Co-Op, Harrisonburg’s consumer-owned grocery, invites the community to come see its new destination for natural, organic and locally-produced products at the store’s grand opening 11 a.m.-5 p.m. July 9 at 150 East Wolfe Street.

  • Friendly City Becomes Member of National Cooperative Grocers Association

    HARRISONBURG, VA — Friendly City Food Co-op, slated to open this month in Harrisonburg, Va., has become the newest member of the National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative serving 120 consumer-owned food co-ops nationwide.

  • Harrisonburg Recognized as a Bike Friendly Community

    May 2: Harrisonburg was honored when the League of American Bicyclists announced the latest round of Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) designations over the weekend to kick off May as National Bike Month.