comscore College education grows more crucial | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.
Hawaii News

College education grows more crucial

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
    Noel Alarcon instructs Luong Lac, left, and Hideki Ito in an internship program designed to give high school students a head start on a Honolulu Community College automotive technology degree.

Roughly two out of three jobs in Hawaii will require some college education by 2018, one of the highest rates projected in the country, according to a new national report from Georgetown University.

"I was really intrigued by this report because we have a lot of trouble getting labor market data," said Linda Johnsrud, vice president for academic planning and policy for the University of Hawaii. "The importance of training beyond high school is really underscored in this report."

The study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows a growing gap between the types of jobs expected and the number of Americans prepared to fill them. It predicted that the nation will need 22 million new workers with associate’s degrees or higher by 2018 but is likely to fall short by 3 million.

"America needs more workers with college degrees, certificates and industry certifications," said Anthony Carnevale, the center’s director. "If we don’t address this need now, millions of jobs could go offshore."

The report, "Help Wanted: Projecting Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018," forecasts that 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii in 2018 will require post-secondary education or training, the 10th-highest rate in the nation. The District of Columbia was highest at 72 percent. Nationally the rate is projected to be 63 percent.


By 2018, 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require postsecondary education, the 10th-highest rate in the country.

2018 Hawaii jobs, by educational level
High school graduate or less 247,000
Some college, no degree 85,700
Associate’s degree 154,200
Bachelor’s degree 155,600
Graduate degrees 65,900
Total 708,400
Change in jobs by educational level
  2008 2018 Change
High school or less 249,000 247,000 -2,000  
Post-secondary 429,000 461,400 32,400
Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

That is a sea shift from 1973, when 28 percent of jobs in the U.S. economy required post-secondary education. By 2008, 59 percent of jobs nationally and 63 percent of those in Hawaii required such training, the report said.

The fraction of jobs open to high school dropouts is projected to stay relatively low in Hawaii, at 6 percent in 2018, which would place the state 47th among the states and the District of Columbia in that category.

"If you only have a high school diploma or have dropped out, you are shut out of a number of jobs which are likely to give you a living wage," said Tammi Chun, executive director of Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education. "If we don’t push people into post-secondary education and training or provide those opportunities, we really reduce their opportunity to be middle class."

Given the recession, the report does not predict substantial job gains nationally until next year. Hawaii can expect to see the number of jobs requiring post-secondary training rise to 461,400 by 2018, up 32,400 over the decade, according to Nicole Smith, senior economist at the Georgetown Center. Meanwhile, jobs requiring high school or less could decline by about 2,000, to 247,000. Those 2018 job counts for Hawaii differ slightly from those in the report, which were subject to more rounding and aggregation.

"The fastest-growing occupations and industries are those that use post-secondary education intensely," Smith said. "High school dropouts are three times as likely, and high school graduates are twice as likely, to be unemployed than holders of bachelor’s degrees."

Christian Pasion, who just graduated from McKinley High School, is getting a leg up on his education at Honolulu Community College by taking part in its Automotive Academy, a six-week summer internship that will earn him four college credits. He plans to major in automotive technology and earn an associate’s degree.

"It’s a promising career," said Pasion, wearing safety glasses as he and his classmates learned how to rivet sheet metal last week. "Everybody needs cars, and they’re always going to need repairs."

"You don’t really have a career without college," Pasion added. "You can work retail, at minimum wage."

Associate’s degrees and certificates in certain occupations can prove to be more valuable than a bachelor’s degree. The Georgetown report noted that 27 percent of those with certificates and 31 percent with associate’s degrees earn more than the average Bachelor of Arts degree holder.

Given Hawaii’s strong service-sector economy, Johnsrud said she was surprised to see the state rank so high in the share of jobs requiring advanced training. The challenge will be to meet those needs. Both Chun and Johnsrud noted that Hawaii’s middle-age population is better educated than those age 25 to 34.

"Hawaii is one of the states where our younger cohorts have less education than, say, our boomers," Chun said. "As more well-educated boomers start to retire, we don’t have the same education in the upcoming labor force that we had earlier, so it increases the gap."

Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education, which brings together the Good Beginnings Alliance, the Department of Education and the University of Hawaii, is working to help local students achieve college and career success. Its goal is for 55 percent of working-age adults in Hawaii to have two- or four-year college degrees or better by 2025, up from 40 percent in 2000, Chun said.

For now the recession is helping to boost enrollment in college and post-secondary training programs, as high school graduates find jobs scarce and seek alternatives. Student registrations at the University of Hawaii’s 10-campus system were up by 9 percent as of June 25 compared with a year earlier, with community college registration up by 14 percent, Johnsrud said.

The University of Hawaii awarded 7,800 degrees and certificates across its system in 2007. "Our goal for 2015 is to get that up to 10,500," Johnsrud said.

"We also have real concern about getting more adults who have dropped out of that education pipeline to come back in, adults who are unemployed or underemployed and need to get more post-secondary training," she said.


Comments have been disabled for this story...

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up