MCC Daily Tribune

President's Wednesday Message

In mid-January, the Brookings Institution released a report on the relationship between educational attainment and the economy. In many ways, the report mirrored previous work by Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce and other organizations, but the dramatic data on the decline of economic opportunity for those with a high school degree or below hit hard.

Brookings reports that, from 2008 to 2013, the number of high school graduates with jobs fell by over 2.8 million, and the percentage of all jobs in the economy for those with a high school degree or below continued to fall through 2017. These jobs are just not there anymore, and with increasing automation and increased technical requirements for entry-level positions, they are not coming back. Some pointed to Amazon's cashier-less grocery store opening last week as a troubling sign for the future of the entry-level skills workforce, but those commenters may have missed much more far-reaching signs like the growing presence of self-service kiosks everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants to pharmacies.

According to Brookings, from 2008 to 2013, the number of college-educated Americans with jobs grew by more than 4.3 million--most with a baccalaureate. Many of the positions these new members of the workforce hold never used to require a four-year college degree; for example, just this year, New York became the first state to require nurses to earn a bachelor's degree. While the majority of new jobs were at the baccalaureate level, positions requiring something more than a high school degree and less than a four-year degree still provide almost as many "good jobs" in the economy. CEW defines "good jobs" as full-time positions that pay at least $35,000 annually and offer benefits; on average, these positions pay $55,000. Nationally, 36 million "good jobs" go to individuals with bachelor's degrees, 30 million to those without. Of these 30 million, 24 million pay more than $45,000 a year. Consistently, nationally and locally, employers report these non-bachelor's degree, skilled positions in every field are among the hardest to fill. Our career and technical education students find multiple employment offers and sustaining wages.

Why share all this data? Because it underscores--in a very real way--why the work you do each day to help our students succeed is so incredibly important to their futures. Whether you are tutoring a prospective Surgical Technology student struggling with Biology, spending extra office hours with a Psychology major struggling in Statistics, connecting an Automotive Tech student to an internship or a Cultural Anthropology student to a research topic, advising a student whose academic and career pathway is a bit foggier, finding a scholarship or grant that will bridge a student's financial gap, or counseling a student whose life challenges are making each day a struggle, you are changing lives.

We know there is true value in education in and of itself: horizons expand, understanding grows, empathy and engagement increase, creative and critical thinking flourish, and more. Yet, we also know that so many of the students who come to MCC pass through our hallways, classrooms, and offices because they need and deserve a more financially secure future--a future that requires their persistence to certificate or degree and/or their effective transfer to a four-year college. As this semester begins to settle in, I thank you for all you do--often in the face of incredible odds--to assure more and more of the students who walk in MCC's front door will walk across our stage at commencement, go on to a great university or a "good job," and succeed personally and professionally.

If you would like to share a success story of a current student, please post it on the blog.

Kress, Anne
Office of the President