IN MANY WAYS, THE FUTURE OF AUSTIN HAS NEVER LOOKED BRIGHTER.
According to our most recent regional economic report, Austin ranked number one in job growth among the top 50 metropolitan areas in the U.S. We also had the lowest unemployment rate. But not all that good fortune is shared equally.
Of unemployed residents aged 25 to 64, nearly 40 percent had earned a high school diploma or less. It’s not that the jobs aren’t out there. In our region’s robust economy right now, opportunities for fulfilling, well-paying careers abound, particularly in math and science. The problem is that there aren’t enough qualified people to fill them. And it’s troubling that despite seeing graduation rates hit all-time highs, we’ve noticed that rate at which students are enrolling directly into college has remained flat.
We as a Chamber want to work together with our local school districts on solutions to these issues. We understand that school districts are doing more with less and will continue to support efforts, including well-thought-out tax elections, that will help our children graduate college-and career-ready. Our expectation, in turn, is that the districts be willing to adapt to the changing needs this economy demands of us. Districts will need to restructure and resources will need to be allocated more wisely than ever to ensure students are graduating prepared to enter high-need fields. The hope for all of us, in the end, is that we are able not only to sustain this economic growth, but that our employers will be able to put as many graduates here locally as possible on a path that will improve their chances of success and quality of life.
By Shaun Cranston – Austin Chamber of Commerce Education Task Force Chair
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