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Louisiana study finds more associate degrees needed

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Written by
Mike Hasten
Gannett Capital Bureau

 

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BATON ROUGE — If you want to get a job right away and one that pays more up-front as soon as you get out of college, get a two-year associate degree from a Louisiana community or technical college.

An Employment Outcomes Report to be presented to members of the Board of Regents today shows that 18 months after graduation, 72.5 percent of students who finished with technical training were employed in Louisiana.

By comparison, 59.5 percent of graduates with bachelor’s degrees, 60.5 percent with master’s degrees, 38.3 percent with doctorates and 50.4 percent with professional degrees were in Louisiana’s work force.

On average, new associate degree holders earned $3,000 a year more than new graduates with bachelor’s degrees, the study found. The difference comes from the types of jobs obtained. Most associate degrees were in the medical fields or for specialized industry jobs.

Engineering graduates with bachelor’s degrees were the top earners right out of school with an average salary of almost $57,000.

Commissioner of Higher Education Jim Purcell said that overall, “59 percent of the graduates had found a place in Louisiana’s economy after 18 months of graduating.”

The percentages could be better than what’s in the report, he said, because some of the graduates could still be in school pursuing higher-level degrees. The employment rate for those with post-graduate degrees could be higher than shown because the study just looked at jobs that require payment of unemployment insurance and only in Louisiana.

The study looked at employment data for completers six and 18 months after graduation in 2006-07, 2007-08 and 2008-09. It found that students who live in the state mostly stayed here and that about a fourth of the non-resident students stayed in Louisiana.

Results found that degree holders at all levels earn more than people with no degrees. That shows “if you’re educated in Louisiana, you are going to be participating in our economy at a much higher rate,” Purcell said. “We can really raise our own economy.

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“In 1970, you could be middle class with a high school diploma or less and the sweat of your brow,” he said. In 2007, the study shows, only 39 percent of the “middle class” in Louisiana had only a high school education.

The study shows the community and technical college system has come of age and is meeting most of the needs of Louisiana companies, Purcell said.

“We see the need for a strong community college system,” he said. “Ideally, we’d have 60 percent of our students enrolled in community colleges and 40 percent enrolled in four-year institutions.”

But reality is different. Currently, 56 percent of students are in four-year institutions and 44 percent in community or technical colleges.

The trend toward getting a two-year associate degree or starting work on a four-year degree at a community college is growing, the study shows. In 2000, 79 percent of students were enrolled in four-year schools.

Joe May, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said he’s not surprised by the study results because “that’s pretty much in keeping with national data. Level of education does matter, but also it’s the occupation.”

Much of the success rate of community college graduates is due to their occupation choices, May said. Many are getting certification in medical fields or for specific jobs at plants, and those jobs pay well.

“We really focus on what we call ‘priority jobs,'” May said. Applied sciences training is “more likely in the pathway to get a good job, and there’s a very low chance of unemployment.”

About 97 percent of the students who get associate degrees are employed, he said. “Students who enroll in our programs do it for one reason — to get a job.”

Some students enroll in community colleges with the goal of transferring to a university for a full degree. May said they will get their rewards “over time.”

Purcell said that while associate degree holders usually get more money up-front, many bachelor’s degree holders catch up and eventually pass them on the wage ladder.

In 2010, 38,425 students earned degrees or certificates at Louisiana’s public higher education institutions. Of those, 51 percent earned bachelor’s, 13 percent master’s, 13 percent associate’s, 11 percent certificates for specific training, 8 percent diplomas from technical colleges and 1 percent doctorates.

 “In 1970, you could be middle class with a high school diploma or less and the sweat of your brow,” he said. In 2007, the study shows, only 39 percent of the “middle class” in Louisiana had only a high school education.

The study shows the community and technical college system has come of age and is meeting most of the needs of Louisiana companies, Purcell said.

“We see the need for a strong community college system,” he said. “Ideally, we’d have 60 percent of our students enrolled in community colleges and 40 percent enrolled in four-year institutions.”

But reality is different. Currently, 56 percent of students are in four-year institutions and 44 percent in community or technical colleges.

The trend toward getting a two-year associate degree or starting work on a four-year degree at a community college is growing, the study shows. In 2000, 79 percent of students were enrolled in four-year schools.

Joe May, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said he’s not surprised by the study results because “that’s pretty much in keeping with national data. Level of education does matter, but also it’s the occupation.”

Much of the success rate of community college graduates is due to their occupation choices, May said. Many are getting certification in medical fields or for specific jobs at plants, and those jobs pay well.

“We really focus on what we call ‘priority jobs,'” May said. Applied sciences training is “more likely in the pathway to get a good job, and there’s a very low chance of unemployment.”

About 97 percent of the students who get associate degrees are employed, he said. “Students who enroll in our programs do it for one reason — to get a job.”

Some students enroll in community colleges with the goal of transferring to a university for a full degree. May said they will get their rewards “over time.”

Purcell said that while associate degree holders usually get more money up-front, many bachelor’s degree holders catch up and eventually pass them on the wage ladder.

In 2010, 38,425 students earned degrees or certificates at Louisiana’s public higher education institutions. Of those, 51 percent earned bachelor’s, 13 percent master’s, 13 percent associate’s, 11 percent certificates for specific training, 8 percent diplomas from technical colleges and 1 percent doctorates

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Written by demon53

August 25, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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