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Augusta ranks with the largest education gap

Augusta ranks low in teaching useful job skills

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When it comes to how educated the workforce is compared to how educated it needs to be to fit the local job market, the Augusta metro area ranks in the bottom five cities of a study from a Washington, D.C., think tank.

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Maya Hill (left), 19, and Courtney McKie, 18, attend Augusta Tech. A study found Augusta schools are not turning out enough students with the skills required of workers in today's job market.  EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Maya Hill (left), 19, and Courtney McKie, 18, attend Augusta Tech. A study found Augusta schools are not turning out enough students with the skills required of workers in today's job market.

Augusta’s education gap was rated at 8.5 percent, according to the Brookings Institution study. The education gap index is calculated as the years of education required by the average job vacancy in a metro area divided by the years of education attained by the average working-age person. According to the study, areas with a higher education gap typically have higher unemployment rates by two percentage points. This is the first time Brookings has done this study.

“Narrowing the education gap is particularly important for improving the long-term health of metropolitan economies,” said Jonathan Rothwell, the author of the Brookings report. “Metro areas with wide education gaps have higher unemployment, but metro areas with narrow education gaps have lower unemployment, more job creation and more job openings.”

The area with the lowest education gap was Madison, Wis., meaning there are more qualified people than there are jobs. Other cities at the top were Honolulu, Hawaii, Raleigh, N.C., Provo, Utah and Washington.

Cities in the bottom five are Augusta, Houston, Texas, Riverside, Calif., Stockton, Calif. and Lakeland, Fla.

For Augusta, 42.6 percent of current job openings require a bachelor’s degree or higher, but only 24.5 percent of all potential workers have those qualifications, Brookings data showed.

The most evenly matched supply and demand is for associate’s degree or some college, with 32.6 percent of current job openings requiring that education level and 29.7 percent of all potential workers having it.

Supply exceeds demand for jobs requiring a high school diploma or less education, with 45.8 percent of the workforce having that but only 24.7 of current job listings needing it.

Rothwell said the short-term crisis of filling the positions is much less serious than the long-term problem of creating enough jobs in general, especially for job seekers with a high school diploma. The short-term answer, he said, is to either educate existing members of the workforce or bring in more qualified workers from other areas. The long-term answer is to create a more sustainable balance between education and the job market.

“It’s a huge, long-term challenge,” he said.

Terry Elam, the president of Augusta Technical College and a board member for the Economic Development Authority of Richmond County, said he believes the solution lies in tailoring education to the market.

“Aligning the education system and the job market is probably the most important thing we could do right now,” he said.

Augusta Tech was ranked 11th out of 40 in 2012 for graduation rates at two-year schools in Georgia, and Elam said their success in that and job placement is due to the fact that two-year and technical schools tend to focus on training for specific occupations.

“We listen to the people who hire,” he said. “These schools are pumping people into the job market.”

Another issue that schools such as Augusta State University or Georgia Health Sciences University face, he said, is that they have many students coming from other cities to study. After they graduate, they leave the area.

“Having a high graduation rate still isn’t the answer. How do we educate and then keep students?” he said.


Brookings Institution education gap rankings, as calculated by the years of education required by the average job vacancy in a metro area divided by the years of education attained by the average working-age person:


• Madison, Wis.

• Honolulu, Hawaii

• Provo, Utah

• Raleigh, N.C.

• Washington, DC


• Houston, Texas

• Augusta

• Riverside, Calif.

• Stockton, Calif.

• Lakeland, Fla.

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dickworth1 09/07/12 - 03:51 pm

I am glad to see our school tax dollars are being well spent!

SemperParatus 09/07/12 - 11:16 pm
Augusta Tech president says...

"Aligning the education system and the job market is probably the most important thing we could do right now."

My question to him is why isn't he doing it NOW?

seenitB4 09/08/12 - 08:35 am

Ain't this special.....countyman..what say you...

Benjamin Paine
Benjamin Paine 09/08/12 - 02:02 pm
GRU... Just what the Dr. Ordered.

Very interesting when this article is contrasted with the new mission of GRU and the dismantling of ASU and GHSU.

As Dr. Azziz has publicly stated the goal of the consolidated university is to become more selective, draw more students in from across the state, region, nation, and (I almost forgot) China, and focus on graduate programs. All of these things appear to be counter to what is needed to address the education gap in Augusta.

Wouldn't it be interesting if the regents committed the resources to ASU to address the fundamental educational needs of our community and state rather than to create another research university? Why embark on such a costly endeavor when the state already has three such universities and has sufficient supply to meet the needs of our taxpayers? Rather than waste funds on such fantasies, wouldn't the state be better off funding ASU to meet their mission and GHSU to build out health care research and education rather than waste funds trying to transform them into a comprehensive, research intensive graduate institution.

This article calls attention to two of the largest issues surrounding the planned consolidation of ASU and GHSU - a gross misappropriation of taxpayer funds by the university system and a vision, as articulated by Azziz and the regents, completely contrary to the educational needs of our state and local community.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 09/08/12 - 02:44 pm
You Missed It

SemperParatus did not understand what the President of Augusta Tech said. Augusta Tech is listening to those who hire and is adapting their programs to match the jobs. That is also true for the storefront for-profit schools such as Miller-Motte, Phoenix, Virginia, etc. The schools who are not aligning the degrees offered and the degrees desired by the job market are the traditional colleges and universities such as ASU and USC-Aiken.

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 09/08/12 - 02:48 pm
Too Late

Benjamin Paine's post is quite insightful. He is correct that our merged university should address its curriculum to the needs of the region. But it will not because it belongs to the regents it is named for. They are egotistical, vain, and narcissistic. Hence, they will spend taxpayer money and student tuition for glitter and glamor instead of substance. That's what regents do.

MadeinAmerica 09/08/12 - 04:12 pm
The low ranking in this

The low ranking in this survey by Augusta is due to local students not obtaining a bachelors degree at all, not because they have the wrong training. That is, if you read the article, 42.6% of local jobs require a bachelors degree but only 24.5% of applicants have that degree. Thus, we need more students graduating with bachelors degrees. That seems pretty simple from the story. What confuses me is why commenters here are blaming the state of GA for creating a research university (GRU). Do not research universities graduate more (ie, a larger %) of their students with bachelors degrees? Yes, they do (and not just because they have better students, although that's one reason). More importantly, for years ASU was satisifed to do nothing much about its dismal graduation rates (even good students drop out of ASU due to the many barriers that exist there). Seeing the need for more students to graduate with bachelors degrees, the state of GA stepped in to correct the situation, which ASU would not correct on its own, by creating GRU (and GRU will quickly make improvements in graduation rates by enspiring local students to achieve more and by removing the many non-academic obstacles that stand in their way at ASU). Also, I think it's noteworthy that Madison, WI, home of the largest research university in WI, is on the top of the list. It's also interesting (actually sad) that Stockton, CA, a city that is usually on the top of US crime statistics list, is on the bottom of this list with Augusta.

MadeinAmerica 09/08/12 - 04:35 pm
PS The actual report can be


The actual report can be found here. It talks very little about specific skills, but rather educational attainment:

PSS, here is a sentence from the report, which concludes a paragraph about how research universities can help aleviate the education gap:
"..........This is one of the reasons why many of the metro areas with the highest college attainment rates also have large research universities, like Austin, Boulder, San Francisco, Boston, and Madison".

jrbfromga 09/09/12 - 09:11 am
Tell the kids

To take education seriously. And, they don't all need to be scholars. For every one "brain", there needs to be everyone from custodians to HVAC techs, plumbers, painters, etc. to support them. Not everyone needs to go to college to be productive and earn a good income.

Riverman1 09/09/12 - 12:57 pm
I don't think any of us are

I don't think any of us are surprised by the article.

OpenCurtain 09/10/12 - 06:41 pm
Look no further than,_Georgia
Demographics, Culture and multiple generations of Project abd welfare families.

As far as those that have the skills and education.
Once educated, most leave for other areas where the jobs are and their skills are in demand.

Besides, Augusta can't be all that bad, Laurence Fishburne, the actor, was born and raised here.

palmetto1008 09/10/12 - 07:51 pm
I think you missed the point

I think you missed the point of the article, opencurtain. The
point is that there's incongruence between the jobs available and an educated/trained workforce in Augusta. Meaning that augustinians, once educated are leaving the area and available careers opportunities here for cities that are less backward, more cool, and have much more competent city government, for instance.

jasonsprenger 09/11/12 - 01:07 pm
Career and technical education

Agreed. Career and technical education (CTE) can and should play a central role in boosting student achievement, training the workforce and bridging emerging skills gaps in the American economy. Investing in it should be a priority for elected officials on all levels, businesses, educators and communities - especially in Augusta, where this study shows a significant gap.

The Industry Workforce Needs Council is committed to advocating for these kinds of efforts and shining a spotlight on emerging skills gaps, so that businesses are able to find the workers they need, Americans can find good work and the economy as a whole benefits from both. For more information on the work of the IWNC or how you can get involved, visit

Jason Sprenger, for the IWNC

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