Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Postsecondary Completions on the Rise

Oregon’s postsecondary graduates hovered around 60,000 a decade ago, then dropped as the state moved into the Great Recession, which officially started in December 2007. Completions fell significantly between the 2006-2007 and the 2007-2008 school years. It took a few years for completions to climb back, but by the 2011-2012 school year, they were above pre-recession levels and reached nearly 65,000 during the 2013-2014 period.

Postsecondary completers data includes graduates in their first major at Oregon:
  • colleges and universities,
  • community colleges,
  • private career schools (overseen by the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Committee),
  • Job Corps centers, and
  • Bureau of Labor and Industries apprenticeship programs.
After an early decline, Job Corps and apprenticeship completers held steady since 2006-2007. While they make up the smallest of the completers groups, individuals completing these programs go on to become a very productive and important part of the workforce. Many Job Corps students learn skills that they can use in their first jobs, and throughout their careers. Apprenticeships train workers in a variety of occupations, with construction a common field. Baby boomer retirements will clear the way for many job openings in this field. These completers will undoubtedly have little difficulty finding work in the near future. 

Private career schools fill an important niche in the state with training in programs such as real estate, insurance, hairdressing, truck driving and bicycle repair. Overall, graduates from private career schools have seen a steady decline since the 2006-2007 period. On the other hand, the number of postsecondary certificates awarded tripled from 2004-2005 to 2013-2014. At least part of this increase was likely tied to the initiation of Career Pathway certifications offered at Oregon community colleges in recent years. Launched in 2004, a Career Pathway helps students at community colleges get short-term training so they can enter the workforce faster or enhance their skills quickly while working. Pathways certificates allow students to take a short series of courses to get to their next level of employment.

For more information on Oregon's postsecondary graduates, read Occupational Economist Brenda Turner's article "Postsecondary Completions on the Rise"

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