There are many factors that affect the balance of workforce supply and demand; training and educational attainment is among them. To help minimize the gap between the skills and training sought by employers and those held by job seekers, it is essential that workforce-related training be tailored towards the actual needs of businesses. Connecting training to workforce needs is one of Oregon's key workforce challenges.
To remain competitive, especially in the current economic climate, many
workers are going back to school or taking some sort of training to
refresh or supplement their skills. Enrollment levels at Oregon's
community colleges and universities have continued to climb since the
start of the recession, while the share of Oregonians age 25 and over
with "some college or Associate degree" increased 2.6 percentage points
between 2007 and 2010.
However, simply having enough people with degrees does not imply there are enough of the right types of degrees. Unemployment rates among graduates with degrees in some of the most
popular majors in the U.S. were estimated by Georgetown University.
Those with health care and related degrees are generally less likely to
be unemployed than those with liberal arts degrees.
Much less common degrees like science, engineering, math, and
technology had extremely low jobless rates over the 2009-2010 period:
physical science comes in at 2.5 percent, while math and computer
science clocks in at 3.5 percent.
Overall, Oregon's population has roughly the right education levels to meet businesses' job needs. However, new graduates face an extremely tough job market. The
Oregon Employment Department's most recent job vacancy survey revealed
that the unemployed outnumbered available jobs by a ratio of six-to-one in the fall of
2011. Given the current economic climate, college graduates who chose
the "right" degree are more likely to find jobs.
For more details on this key workforce challenge, check out the full article, written by Occupational Economist Brenda Turner and Employment Economist (and co-blogger!) Katharine Williams.