AUSTIN (Nexstar)— By 2030, it’s projected that 62% of all jobs in Texas will require some sort of education after high school, according to a Georgetown University researcher Anthony Carnevale.
That’s why worry was expressed during a State Higher Education Interim Committee meeting on Tuesday. Texas is seeing fewer high school students go straight to college — an impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Martiza Gonzalez, a director of counseling with the Hays Consolidated Independent School District, works closely with students and families, especially when it comes to college and career prep.
“Even more so now than before, they’re [students] uncertain as to what they want to do after high school,” Gonzalez said.
At her Central Texas school district, she said she’s noticed students are needing more guidance within the past few years.
“Of course, with the pandemic and just having experienced a lot of changes in their life— and not really knowing how to adapt to those changes,” Gonzalez said.
The latest state data shows just how much high school seniors have been affected.
“Community colleges are down about 12.8% since 2019, that’s more than 90,000 students,” Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Harrison Keller said.
According to Keller, though many graduating seniors have entered the workforce full-time, this may be more harmful long-term.
“Many of those students may have opted to work in jobs that tend to have fewer opportunities for upward mobility,” Keller said.
In the last two years, more than 70% of unemployment claims came from Texans who didn’t have a college degree.
“Our workforce needs are changing,” Keller said.
Black and Hispanic students are currently disproportionately affected by low-enrollment numbers. Some were in the top 10% of their graduating class, according to Keller.
Gonzalez feels more outreach, on all levels, needs to happen.
“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 of value.”
The education and training aim to prepare students for high-demand jobs that often bring higher pay. The program’s goal is to have 550,000 students in Texas complete those credentials of value each year.
Program leaders want almost all of those 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 work-based learning opportunities like paid internships and apprenticeships.