In Focus | Higher Education & the Labor Market

In Focus | Higher Education & the Labor Market

September 30, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


– Hello, I’m Stephanie Kim coming to you from the LG Digital Studio at the Georgetown University’s
School of Continuing Studies. In focus today, higher
education and the labor market. I’m joined by Dr. Anthony P. Carnevale Director of the Center on
Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. Welcome Dr. Carnevale. – Thank you for asking me. – So Dr. Carnevale
you’re a labor economist who conducts research on higher education. What would you say is
the most important factor for one to successfully transition from higher education to the labor market? – Well there’s a set of rules and they’re relatively new. It still is true like it was the old days that the more education you get the more money you’re gonna make. That if you get a graduate degree you’re gonna make more than somebody with a bachelor’s degree. If you get a bachelor’s degree you’re gonna make more money than somebody with a two year degree. If you have a two year degree, on average, you’re gonna make more than somebody with a one year certificate. But what is dramatically new in all that is rule number two. And rule number two is what you make depends
very much on what you take not how many degrees you are or where you go to college. Your earnings depend more
and more on what you take. So there’s a $3.3 million dollar
career earnings difference between the highest paid bachelor’s degree and the lowest paid bachelor’s degree. And rule number three makes
it all the more complicated and that is because of the difference in
the value of fields of study, college majors, you can actually earn
more with less education often times.
– Hmm. – So that 40% of people
with bachelor degrees make more than people with
graduate degrees, on average. About 30% of people with two year degrees make more than people
with four year degrees. Certificates, about 20% of certificates, especially technical
one year certificates, make more than two year or
the average four year degree. So it’s a system in which there’s more complexity
than there used to be. You have to pay attention
not to just where you go or how many years you go
and what degree you get, but what you take when you’re there. – I see. Now, you’re views certainly
underscore the economic value of higher education particularly when you
mention the fields of study, what you study, etcetera. But are there also other important values to higher education? And how do those values sit
with the economic values? – One of the realities
of the American system that is different than the European system or other systems in the world is that we have always mixed
very specific education, that is your college major, you major in history or engineering, that’s only about 40% of your courses if you’re gonna get a bachelor’s degree, or 30%. Most of your courses are going
to be outside your major. What we know is that in the end getting that mix of specific
and general education, those course requirements
in all those other fields, improve your earning
prospects, first of all, and make you more adaptable as things change in labor markets, as technology changes. And then the non-economic
value of higher education is really quite clear. That is, people with more
education are healthier, they have more successful marriages, they are less involved with crime, although the increase in
higher education in America has also spawned an increase
in white collar crime but a dramatic reduction
in blue collar crime. So crimes against persons,
theft, and things of that sort. So there is a powerful non-economic value and then the ultimate non-economic value is that in a democracy we promise every citizen, essentially, the right to pursue happiness which sounds like a silly phrase,
– Ha ha. – but we’re serious about it. That’s why we’ve always
provided more education than is required for jobs in our system. And that’s about individual
human development and individual aspirations, even learning for its own sake and not for any tangible financial reason. – Great, that’s really
fascinating, thank you. Now, there is a… Today, for-profit higher education. Now it’s a very hot topic. And these institutions claim to expand access to a
wider degree of students previously underserved by
higher education institutions. But for-profit higher
education institutions have also received a lot
of criticism and scorn. What is your view of
for-profit higher education? – It doesn’t matter to me. And I think it doesn’t
matter to most Americans whether it’s a for-profit or
not for-profit institution as long as it delivers. So long as the institution
produces learning and produces earning for
the people who go there at a reasonable price it seems to me it should be
eligible for public support. Now the difficulty we’ve had is the increased value of higher education in the American economy
created a huge market and the for-profits rushed in. In part they rushed in in places where the existing
system wasn’t working, that is where it was not providing direct kinds of job training and where it was not providing education for less advantaged Americans. So the issue is not so much whether it’s for-profit or not for-profit. For me the issue is
does it deliver or not, and when it doesn’t it
should be shut down. At our center at Georgetown we’ve participated as expert witnesses in a number of court cases that resulted in shutting
down almost 50 for-profit – Wow.
– institutions. On the other hand I know of many a not
for-profit institutions that perform no better and do not deliver on
their promise any better than the institutions we shut
down in the for-profit sector. In the long term that’s gonna be the issue is accountability in both for-profit and not
for-profit institutions. – I see. So, last question. What future trends do you foresee for higher education and the labor market? – I think in the end where we’re going is that we’re going to
be living in a world where institutions matter less. That is, the college
you go to matters less. The degree level matters less and the subject matter is more important, which means that accountability
in higher education, and you see this in adult
education, your own field, the accountability in higher
education will be by program. And we’ve built information systems, the Obama administration
spent $760 million dollars building out information systems that allow us to look
at individual programs. Biology and engineering and heating ventilation and
air conditioning or whatever, to find out whether they are justified in terms of the benefit they deliver relative to their cost. And that’s where we’re going. We’re headed for a world in which higher education is gonna
start selling its programs and it’ll be less about the
sale of the institution, less about going to Georgetown verses UVA, more about the institutional
program you choose. – Thank you Dr. Carnevale. It’s been a pleasure. And thank you everyone
out there for watching. Stay tuned for more from
the LG Digital Studio at Georgetown SCS.