SC needs more educated workers, study finds

ashain@thestate.comMarch 6, 2014 

Former Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges speaks during the event inside the lobby at City Hall. Backers of a referendum to change Columbia's form of government on Tuesday submitted petitions with over 12,000 signatures to force City Council to put the issue before voters on Nov. 5.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

— South Carolina needs 114,550 more college-educated workers by 2030 to bolster the state’s economy, according to a University of South Carolina study paid for by a business group that includes two former governors.

More than half of the nearly 555,000 new jobs in South Carolina by 2030 will require higher education degrees, according to the study conducted by USC economists Doug Woodward and Joey Von Nessen.

But South Carolina will have a shortfall of 44,010 workers holding two-year degrees and 70,540 workers with bachelor’s or higher degrees unless changes are made, the study found.

Shortages in South Carolina will be most acute among nurses, K-12 teachers, managers and accountants, the study found.

The Competing Through Knowledge initiative paid for the study. That group, civic and business leaders looking to improve the S.C. workforce through higher education, is looking to mimic the success of Virginia’s Grow by Degrees project with a business-led approach, former Gov. Jim Hodges said.

“We’re all in this together,” said Democrat Hodges, who is working with former Gov. David Beasley, former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins, both Republicans, as well as bank, insurance and manufacturing executives in the effort. “Businesses need a better-educated labor force, and schools need to better understand what businesses need.”

Competing Through Knowledge will work with college and policymakers but no details have been announced.

The business group is not interested in dictating course offerings at schools, Hodges said, but wants to provide a road map to improve the workforce and the state’s bottom line.

An earlier USC study found workers in the state could add nearly $7 billion a year in new personal income by raising the percentage of South Carolinians with bachelor’s degrees by just a few percentage points.

The percentage of jobs requiring a college degree will increase to 66.7 percent in 2030 from 61.5 percent in 2013, according to the latest study.

“The percentage of the population with a college degree is the single best predictor of a state’s national ranking in personal per-capita income levels,” the USC economists said.

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