The Rapid City Journal article “Study: Most good jobs in SD go to those without bachelor's degrees” minimizes the value of a college degree despite clear evidence that degree holders are in high demand. The article cites Georgetown University research “Good Jobs That Pay without a BA” in questioning the value of a four-year degree.
I believe the Georgetown study actually shows that higher education is the best path to a good job in South Dakota.
The study points out that:
• Only three in 10 workers without an associate degree or bachelor’s degree find a good job in South Dakota.
• Median wages for those with a bachelor’s degree in the state are 40 percent higher than those without a degree.
• Only 14 percent of workers without a four-year degree in South Dakota have a job paying more than $55,000 per year.
Schools such as South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Black Hills State University and Western Dakota Tech are vital not only because they improve the lives of their graduates, but because they strengthen the economy of our state.
Gov. Daugaard is right to point out that 99 percent of the new jobs created since the recession have gone to those with at least some post-secondary education. Education beyond high school not only elevates individuals, it elevates everyone in society. The Black Hills is seeing the fruits of investment in higher education with new start-up companies such as VRC Metal Systems, a company that spun off from innovation at SD Mines. VRC Metal Systems is now remodeling the old Vandenberg Elementary School building near Ellsworth Air Force Base where it will employ 100 people in high-tech jobs within the next two years.
The Black Hills region is poised for a boom in the tech-sector economy, but this growth requires a population of educated workers. Currently, about 31 percent of the state’s population holds a four-year degree. An increase in the educated workforce in South Dakota can fuel this growth.
Young people entering the job market today are not only competing for employment against others in neighboring states, they are competing in a global marketplace against their peers in countries such as Germany, Russia and China. Maintaining higher education opportunities that are competitive with other countries remains vital for the future prosperity of our nation.
SD Mines and the other universities and technical institutes in South Dakota provide a valuable service to the state. We welcome the opportunity to show our young people the value of a college education and the careers that are available to them.