Education Matters, Data Shows It

Jaap Donath
January 2018

Over the past year, I had the opportunity to speak high school students about what is happening in our local economy, which sectors are growing and what to expect in the job market. When I asked them in what kind of profession they wanted to be, I received a broad range of answers, from owning their own business to becoming a lawyer to working in TV production. This means that their skill levels and thus education will vary as well. During my presentations, I showed them that many of the jobs they mentioned as potential careers will need a post-secondary education. What really got their attention were two tables in particular I showed them.

The first one showed the top fastest growing occupations in Miami-Dade County (See table 1). I asked them what many of these jobs had in common. After some silence, some of the students noticed that almost all the jobs needed a college degree or some type of training, including certificates, after high school. It also showed them the earning potential.

Table 1: Fastest-Growing Occupations in Miami-Dade County

  Occupation2017 Median Hourly Wage  Education Level
Home Health Aides$11.08Post Secondary Certificate
Nurse Practitioners$47.74Masters, Doctoral or Professional Degree
Physician Assistants$49.94Bachelor’s Degree
Personal Financial Advisors$55.24Bachelor’s Degree
Operations Research Analysts$29.65Masters, Doctoral or Professional Degree
Diagnostic Medical Sonographers$29.08Post Secondary Certificate
Medical Assistants$14.79Post Secondary Certificate
Physical Therapists$36.66Masters, Doctoral or Professional Degree
Web Developers$27.94Post Secondary Certificate
Industrial Machinery Mechanics$22.52Post Secondary Certificate
Management Analysts$34.88Bachelor’s Degree
Parking Lot Attendants$9.48No Formal Education
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists$29.82Bachelor’s Degree
Medical and Clinical Laboratory Technicians$18.17Associate Degree
Taxi Drivers and Chauffeurs$10.85No Formal Education
Nonfarm Animal Caretakers$11.93No Formal Education
Personal Care Aides$11.60Post Secondary Certificate
Health Specialties Teachers, Postsecondary$41.11Masters, Doctoral or Professional Degree
Computer Systems Analysts$41.58Associate Degree
Healthcare Social Workers$23.79Masters, Doctoral or Professional Degree

Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, 2018

When I showed them the table with the declining or slow-growth jobs (see table 2), they immediately zeroed in on the education needed and realized that having only a high school diploma is no longer a guarantee for a successful career. They also noticed the difference in the hourly wages compared to the first table. It was not lost on the students that there is a correlation between education level and income.

Table 2: Declining or Slow-Growth Occupations in Miami-Dade County

 Occupation2017 Median Hourly Wage   Education Level
Postal Service Mail Sorters and Processors$27.75High School
Electronics Installers & Repairers, Motor Vehicles$17.16Post Secondary Certificate
Postal Service Mail Carriers$29.53High School
Postal Service Clerks$28.03High School
Switchboard Operators, Including Answering Service$13.25High School
Photographic Process Workers & Processing Machine Oprs.$14.09No Formal Education
Lathe & Turning Machine Tool Setters & Operators; M & P$21.71Post Secondary Certificate
Meter Readers, Utilities$16.05High School
Motion Picture Projectionists$10.64No Formal Education
Cutting, Punching & Press Machine Operators; M & P$13.45High School
Computer Operators$21.31Post Secondary Certificate
Parking Enforcement Workers$26.28High School
Office Machine Operators, Except Computer$12.58High School
Graders and Sorters, Agricultural Products$9.11No Formal Education
Grinding/Lapping/Polishing Machine Tool Operators; M & P$15.22High School
Print Binding and Finishing Workers$12.68High School
Word Processors and Typists$15.96Post Secondary Certificate
Cutters and Trimmers, Hand$9.54No Formal Education
Medical Appliance Technicians$15.64Post Secondary Certificate
Textile Cutting Machine Setters, Operators, and Tenders$11.42High School

Source: Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, Bureau of Labor Market Statistics, 2018

The change in educational needs by employers is a national topic and one that is crucial for our community. From our conversations with business leaders in many of the industries in Miami-Dade County and from studies, it is clear that companies expect future employees to have post-secondary training, which includes certificates. The latter are especially important in technical fields, such as Technology. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, the fourth largest school system in the United States, has added many programs that allow students to earn certification in many fields, including academies and magnet programs (http://yourchoicemiami.org). According to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, “Magnet programs are designed to give students their basic educational foundation, as well as the opportunity to concentrate on a particular subject and reach proficiency in it”.

As we continue to move towards a knowledge based economy in Miami-Dade County, our business and educational leaders have begun to address this issue. But this is not only a conversation between our business and education leaders, but one that should be had by parents and their children and counselors and teachers with their students.

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