More than half of the projected 740,000 job openings expected in the state of Washington in the next five years will be jobs requiring higher skills.
But only a third of the state’s students are prepared for most of these job opportunities, according to a recent Partnership for Learning report called, “Washington Kids for Washington Jobs.” The Seattle-based nonprofit is focused on improving K-12 public education.
State job growth is expected to exceed the state’s historic average and nearly triple the projected national growth rate, the report said.
Among its key findings are:
• Thirty-five percent of projected job openings are classified as “career jobs.” These are higher skill, higher compensation jobs with a salary range of $60,000 to more than $100,000. More than nine in 10 workers who fill these positions will have a post-secondary credential or some college. About 260,000 jobs are expected to open in the next five years in this category.
• Forty-five percent of projected job openings are classified as “pathway jobs” with salaries of $30,000 to $45,000 per year and offering a route to a career job. Nearly two thirds, or 64 percent, of pathway jobs will be filled by workers who have a post-secondary credential or some college. About 330,000 jobs are expected to open in the next five years in this category.
• Twenty percent of projected job openings will be entry-level positions with an annual salary range of $20,000 to $30,000 and offer limited opportunities for upward mobility. Nearly half of these jobs will be filled by workers with a post-secondary credential or some college. About 150,000 jobs are expected to open in the next five years in this category.
The top jobs in the career category in the next five years include software app developers, registered nurses, accountants and auditors, sales representatives for wholesale and manufacturing, general and operations managers, elementary school teachers and computer programmers.
The largest number of pathway job openings in the coming years will be in retail and customer service, freight processing and logistics, office administration and carpentry, the report said.
The report said the jobs outlook is strong, with the majority of the state’s openings in the next five years needing to be filled by workers with a post-secondary credential, which could be an associate, bachelor’s or master’s degree or an industry-recognized certification or apprenticeship program.
But the nonprofit’s concern is that only 31 percent of Washington students go on to earn such a credential.
“To better prepare Washington kids for the jobs of the future, we need to more than double the post-secondary attainment rate for students growing up in our state,” the report said.
Washington Roundtable has set a goal of getting 70 percent of Washington students to earn a post-secondary degree by the age of 26 by 2030.
The nonprofit is composed of executives of major private sector state employers focused on public policy issues supporting economic development; Partnership for Learning is the education foundation arm of this group.
The report called for action in four areas:
• Improve school readiness, with an emphasis on low-income children and traditionally underserved student populations.
• Improve the performance of the K-12 system to ensure more high school students graduate career- and college-ready, with an emphasis on raising achievement among at-risk students and low-performing schools and students.
• Increase participation of Washington students in post-secondary education, with a focus on delivering degrees, certificates and other credentials in fields that will be in high demand.
• Help students, beginning in elementary school, develop better awareness of the careers that will be available, inspiring them to think about their futures, the skills necessary for the jobs that interest them and how to get those skills.
“Washington employers are creating exciting job opportunities that offer excellent wages and strong potential for upward mobility. These jobs should go to students from Washington whenever possible,” the report said.
The study was done in partnership with The Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm.
To read the full report, visit waroundtable.com/wa-kids-wa-jobs.
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