Workforce Preparedness:

College Enrollment Readiness and Completion Rates Social/Economic Dimensions

Quality postsecondary education is critical to economic and civic prosperity. However, such benefits remain elusive to many of the region’s residents. The fastest growing professions in the region, including education, nursing, engineering, and accounting, will face as much as a 621,000 person shortage in the near future. The metrics presented here suggest that the gap will not be easily filled by graduates from our community colleges and four-year institutions.

Specifically, the metrics indicate that:
  • Having a successful college experience is important – for the individual and for the collective economic and social well-being.
  • The region faces profound challenges with regard to workforce readiness. Almost half of entering college freshmen need one or more developmental education courses. Moreover, only 30.9% of the Houston region’s adults age 25 years and older have a Bachelor’s degree or higher.
  • The cost of college education increases as state funding declines. From 2003 to 2010, the average cost of all postsecondary tuition and fees increased. Most notably, the cost of a four-year college education doubled.
As the region continues to deliberate about and focus resources on the sustainability and development of human and intellectual capital, it will be increasingly important for postsecondary education leaders to work proactively and collaboratively with policy makers, the business and civic community, and other advocates. Such efforts will increase the likelihood of sound policy development leading to enhanced opportunities for all of the region’s residents. Without such efforts, the region faces substantial challenges, brought to broad attention in Center for Houston’s Future Scenarios 2040 Regional Summit on Workforce Development in early 2013.

In response to these challenges, Greater Houston Partnership has launched UpSkill Houston, an industry-led initiative to bridge gaps and fill jobs in middle skills occupations, defined as those requiring more than high school and less than four-year college education and training.