NC Budget and Tax Center, Uncategorized

NC to break out of Southern low-skill trap

A new report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce analyzes employment and education trends in the South and finds that the southern economy is facing a low-skill trap.  The trap is characterized by a “vicious cycle in which low demand for skill in the real economy discourages individuals and employers from developing skill from education, training and on the job skill enhancement.”

The good news is that North Carolina is one of two southern states projected to break away from the southern trend of a dominance of low-skill, low-wage jobs.  By 2020, North Carolina is one of two states projected to surpass the 2010 level of jobs requiring post-secondary degrees.

The bad news is that the state continues to struggle with its historic industrial and occupational makeup—a concentration in traditional manufacturing, for example—and the new demand generated from workers moving to the state.  The result is that continued attention and investment will be necessary to ensure our workforce is prepared for the jobs of the future.

The report finds that without additional investment to improve the relatively low levels of educational attainment in the South, it will be difficult to develop higher-wage-high-skilled employment and break out of the low-skill trap.  This is a particularly disturbing finding in light of the current trends that show state divestment in post-secondary education.

4 Comments


  1. Frank Burns

    August 20, 2012 at 11:49 am

    In terms of finding marketable jobs, having a 4 year degree is not a guarantee for successful employment. In addition 4 year degree graduates are often burdened with onerous student debt. On the other hand, high tech labor is often achieved by taking advantage of Community Colleges at much less cost. Perhaps we should engage in some cost benefit analysis and reduce state investments in four year education facilities and shift dollars to Community Colleges.

  2. david esmay

    August 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    Uh Frank, your much vaunted GOP GA has taken a slash and burn approach to our community colleges. Did you not pay attention during the debates on the education budget and the end result?

  3. Frank Burns

    August 20, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    Uh David, I’m suggesting we cut funds from the UNC system and use that for Community Colleges.

  4. david esmay

    August 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Really, they’ve already cut so much that we have to pay for another GD year at Chapel Hill that we can ill afford, cons can take their cuts and go screw themselves.

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