Lisa Katz| Crain’s Detroit Blog

Since the movement to encourage post secondary attainment began in 2012, the Lumina Foundation has been focused on one major goal: Increase the percentage of the U.S. population with high-quality degrees, certificates and credentials to 60 percent by 2025. Its research finds that economies with higher degree attainment tend to be better off, as are their residents.

While 60 percent of the population with high-quality degrees, certificates and credentials by 2025 is a lofty goal, will everyone in Michigan be able to find a job worthy of their degree?

Data from real-time job postings for the state of Michigan shows that almost 42 percent of postings list a bachelor’s degree as a required credential, 16 percent want a master’s or more, and about 13 percent require only some sort of post-secondary education. This data is not additive, as many job postings list several levels of education, but the data looks promising: With nine years before 2025, nearly half of all postings require a degree. If the current trends continue then, yes, there will be jobs for the 60 percent of the worker population with a high-quality degree, certificate or credential.

But what kinds of jobs require higher education and which are most in demand by employers right now?

The most-in-demand jobs from employers in Michigan over the past year are those in management, computers and math, office and administrative support, sales, health care, transportation and materials moving, food preparation and related services, and architecture and engineering.

In comparison, the occupations with the highest share of postings with a need for postsecondary degree are in management, business and finance, computers and math, architecture and engineering, community and social service, and law positions. Many of the job categories on this list do not match with the list of most in-demand jobs. Four categories, however, do align: management, business and finance, computers and math, and architecture and engineering.

 Online job postings in Michigan

May 2013-May 2014

Top jobs categories in demand in MichiganTop in-demand job categories in Michigan with highest share postsecondary degree requirements
Computers and mathBusiness and finance
Office and administrative supportComputers and math
SalesArchitecture and engineering
Health careCommunity and social service
Transportation and materials movingLaw
Food preparation and related servicesLife, physical and social science
Architecture and engineeringArts, design, entertainment, sports, and media

Once broken down further, the data is not as clear in its support of six out of every 10 workers needing a degree, at least in terms of what employers want today. For the 60 percent goal to make sense for Michigan, more employers from across different industries will need to require postsecondary training in a greater variety of skill areas, or more workers will need to shift their postsecondary pursuits to align with the jobs requiring those degrees in Michigan.

Today, a certain number of job classes dominate postsecondary demand, and right now, many students with degrees are not preparing in those areas. Not everyone is going to be an engineer or financial analyst or a computer programmer, but that is where demand for postsecondary preparation is highest now.

It is laudable to help our economy by encouraging general educational attainment and pursuit of a diverse set of skills among the workforce. However, if we are to meaningfully employ those who are part of the 60 percent goal by 2025, we had better guide our young people and incumbent workforce into degrees that will get them jobs in the fields that most require those credentials.

Note: This blog post was prepared with research and content from Colby Spencer-Cesaro, director for research, Workforce Intelligence Network.


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