Maine to have lowest share of jobs in NE needing degree, researcher says

Posted Sept. 12, 2010, at 5:57 a.m.

A new report predicts that by 2018, the percentage of Maine jobs that require a college degree will be the lowest in New England.

The report by Georgetown University researchers in the New England Journal of Higher Education says that in eight years, 59 percent of jobs in Maine will require a college education or its equivalent.

Wage differentials

The report found that retirement and job growth will create 2.3 million job vacancies in New England in 2018, with 66 percent, or 1.5 million jobs, requiring a college, associate or graduate degree.

The state in the region with the highest proportion of jobs requiring a postsecondary education is Massachusetts (68 percent), followed by Connecticut (65 percent), New Hampshire (64 percent), Vermont (62 percent), Rhode Island (61 percent) and Maine (59 percent). The national average is 63 percent.

The paper says Maine’s current job mix “shows below average concentrations of workers in Private Education, Professional and Business Services, Information and Private Education Industries and above average concentrations in Manufacturing and Natural Resources. These characteristics contribute to a subdued demand for postsecondary education in Maine, compared with other New England states.”

However, writes Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce and co-author of the report, Maine has “an extraordinarily high demand for workers with high school diplomas, ranking Maine third in the nation in the proportion of its jobs for high school graduates.”

Carnevale says the the study fills a hole in research on the U.S. work force. The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics tracks education demand but doesn’t project numbers for future years.

Currently, the report concludes, “Maine is on par with the rest of the nation in the proportion of its residents with a college degree.”

But looking forward eight years, “the state will fall behind in this measure if current trends in college completions and net migrations continue, according to research by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems.”

The Georgetown center’s report, also co-authored by economist Nicole Smith, found that not enough Americans are finishing college to satisfy employers’ demands. Carnevale said the study offers evidence to young people that a postsecondary education is still important, despite the weak economy.

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