Degree Completion and Why It's Important for One-Stop Career Centers

Although often overlooked as a first line of support when matching workers with jobs, the case for degree completion is strong. Degree completion is:

    Degree completion is effective for clients:
    Clients who complete college benefit from individual prosperity, family economic security, and local economic development. Graduates feel great, not just for completing a life goal, but for being a better prepared job seeker and employee.

    2012 U.S. Unemployment Rate and Median Weekly Earnings for Educational Attainment

    As illustrated in the graph left (2012 U.S. Unemployment Rate and Median Weekly Earnings for Educational Attainment), the likelihood of an individual's unemployment decreases as their degree attainment increases. College credentials are also a valuable long-term investment for clients because clients' average lifetime earnings increase as degree attainment increases:
    • No education to 8th grade: average lifetime earnings $936,000
    • 9th to 12th grade: average lifetime earnings $1,099,000
    • High school graduate: average lifetime earnings $1,371,000
    • Some college: average lifetime earnings $1,632,000
    • Associate’s degree: average lifetime earnings $1,813,000
    • Bachelor’s degree: average lifetime earnings $2,422,000
    • Master’s degree: average lifetime earnings $2,834,000
    • Professional degree: average lifetime earnings $4,159,000
    • Doctorate degree: average lifetime earnings $3,525,000
    (Source: U .S. Census Bureau, 2011 American Community Survey:
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    Degree completion is imperative for the nation:
    To meet the growing needs of the United States workforce, the nation must steadily increase the number college graduates each year until 2025. By 2018, for example, 60% of all jobs in US will require postsecondary education of some sort, but presently only 38% of working Americans have a post-secondary, associates, or higher degree. If the nation does not place a high priority on degree completion, the US labor force will be short 23 million degree holders in 2018. (Learn more about the national case for degree completion.)
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    Degree completion is necessary at the local level:
    Increasing the number of college graduates is imperative nationally and also necessary to sustain the vitality of local communities. National growth in college completion requires growth at the local level. To understand and address the college attainment challenges in your state, county or metropolitan area, please visit this year's "Stronger Nation" report.
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    Degree completion is possible with guidance from One-Stop Career Centers:
    According to the Lumina Foundation for Education, 36 million adults (1 out of every 5 working-age Americans - or more than 22% of the national population) have significant college credit but still lack a degree. Many unemployed individuals in need of training are included in this category. Through effective guidance, One-Stop Career Centers can serve as a critical partner in degree completion efforts and help:

    • grow a stronger, more educated local workforce;
    • promote strong communities;
    • keep companies within the state; and
    • contribute to the national goal of a more educated workforce and strong economy.
    The public workforce system is accountable by performance measures based on training related outcomes for adults and dislocated workers. These outcomes include annual earnings. College completion can give centers and their boards the opportunity to provide more individuals with an Associate or Bachelor’s Degree and thereby earn higher wages. Higher wages, in turn, can improve performance measures.
    In addition to these benefits, the environment is primed for One-Stop Career Centers to play an important role in college completion effort. The federal focus is currently on building the economy and workforce. Post-recession, new populations are using the workforce investment system. With an emergent economy, a host of new job types, and an employer emphasis on education, One-Stop Career Centers are situated to be good partners to college completion efforts.