Low-cost path to new workforce skills needed

An editorial from The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — For almost a century, free public education has stopped when students walk across the auditorium stage and picked up their high school diplomas.

For years that was fine, because a high school graduate was well prepared for the workplace. As recently as 1973, only 28 percent of workers in the United States had a post-secondary degree. About 40 percent had only a high school degree, and 32 percent of workers had not finished high school.

Fast forward to today, and the educational requirements for the work force are much higher. About 60 percent of workers have some form of post-secondary education, according to Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. That change was accelerated by the recent recession, when businesses embraced any new technology they could find to cut payroll costs. Even as the economy has improved, those lower-skilled jobs have been slow to return.

That shift has caught much of the country – and West Virginia in particular – off guard…

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