AUSTIN (Nexstar) – By 2030, it’s expected that 62% of all jobs in Texas will require some kind of education after high school, according to Georgetown University researcher Anthony Carnevale.
That’s why concerns were raised at a meeting of the state’s Interim Higher Education Committee on Tuesday. Texas is seeing fewer high school students going straight to college — an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martiza Gonzalez, director of counseling at the Hays Consolidated Independent School District, works closely with students and families, especially regarding college and career readiness.
“Even more now than before, they are [students] unsure of what they want to do after high school,” Gonzalez said.
In her Central Texas school district, she said she’s noticed students needing more guidance in the past few years.
“Of course, with the pandemic and just having gone through a lot of life changes — and not really knowing how to adapt to those changes,” Gonzalez said.
The latest state data shows how badly high school students have been affected.
“Community colleges are down about 12.8% since 2019, or more than 90,000 students,” Higher Education Commissioner Dr. Harrison Keller said.
According to Keller, although many graduating seniors have entered the full-time workforce, this may be more harmful in the long run.
“Many of these students may have chosen to work in jobs that tend to have less opportunity for upward mobility,” Keller said.
Over the past two years, more than 70% of jobless claims have come from Texans who lacked a college degree.
“Our labor needs are changing,” Keller said.
Black and Hispanic students are currently disproportionately affected by low enrollment. Some were in the top 10% of their promotion, according to Keller.
Gonzalez thinks more awareness, at all levels, needs to take place.
“What things have changed in college admissions…how could they best access scholarships, financial aid,” Gonzalez said.
The state has a strategic plan called “Building a Talent Strong Texas” that aims to get more students on track for what they call post-secondary “credentials.”
Education and training aims to prepare students for high-demand jobs that often bring higher wages. The program’s goal is to have 550,000 Texas students complete these valuable degrees each year.
Program officials want nearly all of these students to graduate with little or no student debt. To do this, the plan calls for leveraging state and federal financial aid, encouraging flexible programs to meet the needs of individual students, and expanding workplace learning opportunities like paid internships and apprenticeships.