Most of West Virginia’s jobs will require no more than a high school education by 2018, among the lowest rankings nationally, according to a national report issued by Georgetown University.

Researchers at Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce predict that 49 percent of jobs in West Virginia will require more than high school education. Nationally, that average is expected to be 63 percent.

Jobs requiring just high school education are expected to total 328,000 in the state, while jobs for high school dropouts are predicted to add up to 79,000, according to the study.

Nationally, employers are expected to need 22 million new workers with at least some education beyond high school by 2018, but Georgetown says the country is likely to fall short by 3 million.

“If we don’t address this need now, millions of jobs could go offshore,” said Anthony Carnevale, who heads the Center on Education and the Workforce.

The report does call for job growth in West Virginia through 2018. The state should add 20,000 jobs requiring post-high school education and 13,000 requiring no more than a high school diploma.

That runs somewhat counter to the West Virginia University Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s projections. The bureau expects slow job growth through 2014, and much of it will merely replace jobs lost during 2009. WVU doesn’t expect lost jobs to be fully replaced until 2013.

Growth is expected in fields requiring higher education such as health care and professional services, said WVU economist George Hammond.

The state’s brightest economic spot is in and around Morgantown, which added jobs from 2008 to 2009 despite the recession, Hammond said. WVU plays a role in creating jobs requiring higher education, as do hospitals in Monongalia County.

“It’s related to the mix and the university is part of it,” Hammond said.

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