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Georgetown: Need more than high school to handle jobs of the future

Researchers analyzed job trends as well as educational requirements to do them and found the United States will come up 3 million workers short based on current post-secondary education patterns.

Between 2008 and 2018, employment is expected to increase by 15.3 million, according to projections by the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Coming after a recession that destroyed 8 million jobs, that sounds encouraging.

But a different forecast being released Tuesday by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce shows that there is a growing disconnect between the types of jobs that employers must fill and the number of Americans with the education and training to do them.

Georgetown researchers project that 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some post-secondary education. In all, employers will need 22 million new workers with associate's degrees or higher. Unfortunately, that's about 3 million more than the report indicates the United States is expected to produce.

In an interview, Jeff Strohl, director of research at the Center on Education and the Workforce, said the new analysis confirms that "we're moving away from our grandfather's high school-based economy."

That's been true for three decades, but the report makes distressingly clear that Pennsylvania may lag the nation by many measures.

For example, 57 percent of all jobs in Pennsylvania, or 3.5 million jobs, are expected to require post-secondary education, which is 6 percentage points less than the national average.

New Jersey fares better, under the Georgetown analysis, with 64 percent of jobs there needing people possessing education beyond the high school level.

"You really do need some post-secondary education to chase and catch the American dream," Strohl said.

Besides being an effort to rally the case for higher education, the Georgetown report also delves into the range of educational attainment needed for all sorts of occupations.

Strohl used the example of the job of administrative assistant. Someone who works as an "admin" for a law firm in Washington, D.C., would require a different level of schooling than an administrative assistant working for a construction company, he said.

Georgetown researchers projected that 75 percent to 90 percent of jobs in six industry sectors will require post-secondary education or training: information services; private education services; government and public education services; financial services; professional and business services; and health-care services.

Some of those sectors - particularly "eds and meds" - are among the biggest employers in the Philadelphia region. So kids, stay in school. And employers? It's never too early to worry about 2018.

Not popular

The good news for the nine members of the board of C&D Technologies Inc. is that they all were reelected by shareholders last week.

The bad news is that shareholders withheld more votes for every single director of the Blue Bell industrial-battery maker than they cast in favor.

For three of the four members of the board's compensation committee, the vote was more than 2-to-1 "withheld" vs. "for." Least popular was William Harral III, a former CEO of Bell Atlantic - Pennsylvania Inc., who received only 5.68 million "for" votes compared with 12.11 million "withheld."

That's a big change from 2009, when each of the then eight directors received more than 24 million "for" votes and less than 969,000 "withheld" votes.

Call it a protest vote by shareholders, who can't be happy that C&D's stock price has fallen 52 percent over the last 52 weeks. Over that same span, the NYSE Composite Index, of which C&D is member, has risen 11 percent.

Nor can they be pleased that C&D has lost money in each of the last five years. It lost $25.5 million, or 97 cents per share, on net sales of $335.7 million for its year ended Jan. 31, 2010. The previous year, C&D lost $16.9 million, or 65 cents per share, on net sales of $365.5 million.

Under the rules of plurality voting, this wasn't the type of election that any of the C&D directors could lose. Only the "for" votes get counted.

However, it's quite extraordinary that "withheld" was the people's choice in each case.