AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – Job growth and the state economy could be in trouble, unless the University of Massachusetts and other public colleges graduate more students.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, the rate at which state residents earn college degrees will stop growing and start declining by 2022.
The challenge is that the high school population is declining, while 660,000 workers plan to retire. Two-thirds of those job openings will require a college degree. It is projected that the state could fall 65,000 graduates short of what is needed.
The concern is that the shortfall of graduates and the aging workforce could constrain economic growth.
Kathy Franz of Greenfield says that she is looking into returning to school, in order to take advantage of job opportunities.
“I’m actually think about going back to school to get my degree, because I’ve found in the last year looking for a job that I am excluded from so many positions just for not having a degree,” Franz said. “One thing that colleges could do would be to give more financial aid to find ways to subsidize people who want to go back to school.”
The plan is to encourage growth in fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The department also wants to reach out to more young people in the inner cities, and make it more affordable for them to afford college.