(KCPW News) A new report from the Utah Foundation shows the state is falling behind in national rankings for college graduation, particularly among young people. Foundation President Steven Kroes says the trend is concerning, and policymakers should act to reverse it.
“This is one of the warning signs that our workforce is perhaps not positioning itself very well to win that competition,” Kroes says. “And if we don’t pay attention to the warning signs, we might see slower economic growth in the future and some difficulties for Utah’s young, growing population.”
The report on educational attainment indicates that between 2000 and 2008, Utah’s national ranking for the percentage of adults who graduate from college fell from 16th to 18th. This continues a downward trend from the past 60 years.
Kroes says this is particularly concerning among the state’s 25 to 34 year olds, who have fallen below the national average. Men in this category are right at the national average. But women, who receive degrees at a higher rate than men in Utah and nationwide, are lagging six percentage points behind their national counterparts.
“What impacts will that have on our future ability to compete for jobs,” Kroes says, “when in the rest of the country, young women are getting educated at a much higher rate and filling important jobs in the workforce with their educational credentials?”
Kroes says the downward trend for higher education in Utah could be a result of the state’s growth, culture, and an influx of immigrants.