Two useful charts for the future of education: jobs and students

This is another post in my series of “I’ve found several interesting nuggets and want to share them.”

ITEM: Burning Glass published a take on different careers in terms of demand.  The idea was “to map both supply (using federal workforce statistics) and demand (based on job postings).”  The goal: “to assess the worker shortfall at an occupational level, role by role.”

skills gap Glassdoor 2018

Some of these are unsurprising, like the enormous demand across health care (““The most dramatically expanding skills gap in our research is in health care occupations”) (cf my Health Care Nation post) and the continued interest in computer skills.  Some are strange – I don’t know what “social science” means in this case (economics? sociologists?).  It’s interesting to compare jobs in transportation (rising) with those in construction (falling).  It’s also interesting to think how automation could adjust these figures – i.e., self-driving cars and trucks for transportation, more AI in finance (second most in-demand field on the chart).

The decline under “arts, design, entertainment… and media” is depressing for those who love the humanities.

But note that the chart is arranged by proportion, not absolute number.  If we turn to the report’s estimate of total job numbers, the results change a bit:

Health Care Practitioners 1,153,617

Business and Financial Operations 985,214

Transportation and Material Moving  558,339

Sales 388,857

Computer and Mathematics 356,527

Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance 176,978

Architecture and Engineering 151,976

Health Care Support 133,217 [bold for some changes]

“Computer and Mathematics” drops down a bit, and Sales rises.

The method used to create the report is interesting:

we use an econometric model which starts with total postings collected by Burning Glass by occupation, and normalizes those to equal the total number of national openings reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS). Supply is measured based on the total number of workers separating from their job in JOLTS. We then estimate a turnover rate for each occupation based on data from the Census’s Current Population Survey (CPS). We determine the available number of workers by multiplying the churn rate by the total employment in each industry and occupation. Demand and supply are then compared to determine the ratio used as a summary statistic for each occupation.

Why do I mention this report here?  Because it has several educational ramifications.  First, again that ferocious demand for health care.  We should expect rising responses from colleges and universities.

Second, the report argues for closer ties between businesses and the higher education curriculum.  It sees a “need for improved alignment between education and workforce systems and a rapidly changing labor market.”  It’s not surprising for a report commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.  This isn’t new, but is a useful example of that trend.  You can hear it in lines like “[i]n other areas of the job market, hiring and training systems seem to be misaligned with what employers demand.”

Third, note that the report calls for more higher education.

there is a need for improved access to postsecondary education, training, and credentialing opportunities. We do not suggest that everyone needs a four-year degree, but it is clear that the most in-demand jobs require some form of postsecondary education or training.

So while not all jobs require post-secondary learning, enough do that businesses remain interested in expanding university access.  That’s a key takeaway for American politics.

ITEM #2: about enrollment history.  Working my way through a new report on the University of California system’s finances (“Approaching a Tipping Point? A History and Prospectus of Funding for the University of California,” by John Aubrey Douglass and Zachary Bleemer) I found many interesting and useful things, but wanted to share one in particular.  It’s about UC enrollment over the past century and a half.

Take a look:

I’m fascinated by the growth spurts.  A 26% increase from 1950 to 1960 (hello, Sputnik).  Nearly doubling from 1960 to 1970 (greetings, baby boom).  From 1890 to 1910, a 600+% increase!  More recently, a 150% increase from 1970 to 2015.  That’s the kind of long enrollment boom I’ve been talking about for years, a pattern of sustained, relentless growth that has come to shape how much of American higher ed thinks about the future.  Perhaps the UC system will keep that growth going, or at least leading campuses therein.  The Douglass and Bleemer isn’t sure, especially if the state doesn’t increase funding.

So: historical enrollment and the future of jobs.  Two ways of thinking about students in American higher education.

Liked it? Take a second to support Bryan Alexander on Patreon!
This entry was posted in economics, enrollment, research topics. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *