Fixing the “leaky pipeline” in education to close the skills gap. When most jobs require postsecondary training, too many students drop out before high school graduation.

In our post yesterday on the new “Pathways to Great Jobs” report released by the Washington Roundtable and Boston Consulting Group, we emphasized the key employment reality of our time and place. There is a tremendous mismatch, a skills gap, between the training and education required for the jobs being created and the credentials being earned by Washington students.

Retirements, normal workforce turnover and new and expanding businesses will create 740,000 job openings in Washington over the next five years. The best of these jobs – and the majority of all jobs – will be filled by workers who have a postsecondary credential. And currently only 31 percent of Washington students are going on to complete a training or education program after high school. 

This infographic from the report tells the grim story well.

leaky pipe

Of 80,700 students entering 9th grade, about one-quarter of them, 20,100 will drop out before graduation. Those students have a mountain to climb to reach a career job.  

A survey released today by Pew Research adds to our understanding of the problem.

A new Pew Research Center survey, conducted in association with the Markle Foundation, and analysis of government data finds that employment in occupations requiring more education and training is on the rise, and many workers are realizing that retraining and upgrading their skills needs to be a lifetime commitment.

The researchers draw six conclusions. We’ll highlight the bullet points and encourage you to follow the link for the more complete story.

  1. Employment has been rising faster in occupations requiring more preparation.
  2. Employment and wages have increased most in occupations that require higher social or analytical skills.
  3. The majority of American workers say they will need continuous training to keep up with changes in the workplace, and many say they do not have the skills they need to get ahead.
  4. The public has mixed views on the value of higher education in preparing people for the workplace.
  5. Most Americans think the responsibility for making sure the workforce has the right skills and education to be successful in today’s economy lies with individuals themselves.
  6. Americans say job security is on the decline, but most workers feel secure in their own jobs.

The identified problems in our state’s talent pipeline must be addressed now to ensure Washington students have the training and education they need to succeed here. Every sector has a role to play.

In a demonstration of their commitment to improving educational attainment in our state, major employers are making important investments in education. This Seattle Times editorial highlights corporate contributions from Boeing and Microsoft. And Geek Wire reports on Amazon’s new donation to computer science at the University of Washington.