- 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
“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.
The gender wage gap must be addressed, but there’s less room to fix women’s economic outcomes through college attainment alone, the report said. Women already have higher levels of education than men on average.
Disparities also exist among young adults of different races and ethnicities. Learning CTE skills in high school, for example, raises the likelihood of having a good job at age 30 for Black and White students but hurts the odds for Hispanic/Latino students, the report said.
“Addressing disparities in access to good jobs also requires combating bias and discrimination in the labor market, directing investments toward individuals from historically disadvantaged groups, and raising wages in undervalued occupations that are mostly filled by workers from marginalized groups and are crucial to the functioning of our society,” Zack Mabel, report co-author and research professor at CEW, said in a statement.
Mabel advised policymakers to create a coordinated strategy to address both expanding economic opportunity and economic justice.
The 10 interventions outlined as leading to good jobs include:
- Specializing in CTE in high school.
- Starting a certificate or associate’s degree program by age 22.
- Starting a bachelor’s degree program by age 22.
- Being continuously employed from ages 20 to 22.
- Having a blue-collar job at age 22.
- Having a STEM or other high-paying job at age 22.
- Completing an associate’s degree by age 26 after starting a certificate or associate’s degree program.
- Completing a bachelor’s degree by age 26 after starting a certificate or associate’s degree program.
- Completing an associate’s degree by age 26 after starting a bachelor’s degree program.
- Completing a bachelor’s degree by age 26 after starting a bachelor’s degree program.