A new national study shows that by 2018 Arizona will be one of the top five states with jobs available for high school dropouts.
But conversely, just more than 60 percent of jobs in Arizona will require some type of postsecondary education by 2018, according to the study released Tuesday by The Center on Education and the Workforce.
Arizona's vast tourism industry which creates service-related positions - housekeepers, food service, grounds keepers - is driving the growth of jobs for those lacking a diploma, according to Lee McPheters, research professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
"You come to Arizona to play golf," he said. "Business travel and tourist travel are important to the Arizona economy, more so than other states."
But Arizona's expected population growth will also fuel a need for more doctors, nurses and others in health care, McPheters said. Those jobs all require postsecondary education.
The report released Tuesday, "Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018," was created out of Georgetown University. It looks at job growth by sector and educational requirements across the country. Nationally, 63 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education, from associate's degrees to college training to bachelor's and graduate degrees. In Arizona, 61 percent of jobs will require postsecondary education.
"The economy (that follows) this recession will be very different than the economy we entered it with. It will require more and more postsecondary education. We've come to the point we've been headed for a long time: If you don't have some type of postsecondary education or training you will have a much reduced chance of earning a middle class wage," Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Center on Education and the Workforce, said Tuesday morning during a web conference.
Arizona will create 227,000 jobs by 2018 that will require postsecondary education and training, and 88,000 jobs for high school graduates and dropouts, the analysis shows.
Susan Carlson, executive director of the Arizona Business & Education Coalition, said her group is advocating for better education in Arizona to recruit more companies to create better jobs.
Those jobs will help fuel Arizona's economy because there will be higher tax collections to support education, hospitals and health care in the state.
Even today, many of the jobs going unfilled are technical jobs that require some type of postsecondary education. Her group is encouraging students to take that next step after high school, be it a technical school, community college or university.
The top job sector in Arizona in 2018 will be office and administrative support positions, followed by sales, food preparation and service, management and education.
More jobs in sales and office support will require an associate's degree or higher compared to jobs available to high school dropouts, high school graduates and those with some college, the study shows.
The Arizona Board of Regents recently announced the state's three universities increased the number of students graduating with bachelor's degrees by about 9 percent in the last two years, from 18,654 in 2007 to 20,294 in 2009. The board set a goal to increase baccalaureate degree production by 50 percent over the next ten years in order to meet anticipated workforce needs.