Receiving a scholarship makes a big impact on a student, and awarding a scholarship makes a big impact on the sponsor -- helping young people get closer to a degree is one of the most satisfying gifts you can give. But did you know: that scholarship has a direct, real impact on the worldwide workforce? We examined this intricate relationship in another post:
"As our economy becomes more globalized, connected and automated, the face of the workforce will continue to change. One thing won’t change, though. The workforce [in the United States] will continue to need more and more workers with college degrees ... How many more? According to the Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW)’s Recovery 2020 report:
There will be 55 million job openings in the economy through 2020: 24 million openings from newly created jobs and 31 million openings due to baby boom retirements. ... 35 percent of the job openings will require at least a bachelor’s degree, 30 percent of the job openings will require some college or an associate’s degree and 36 percent of the job openings will not require education beyond high school.
That’s right: within the next five years, two of every three jobs will require at least a two-year degree.
While the CEW report addresses the U.S. workforce specifically, the need for a highly educated workforce is global. According to a 2007 IMF report, the world’s workforce has gotten much larger -- and relatively better-educated -- over the last three decades, and continues to do so. “The effective global labor supply quadrupled between 1980 and 2005, with most of the increase taking place after 1990. East Asia contributed about half of the increase,” the report states. “[T]he relative supply of workers with higher education increased by about 50 percent over the last 25 years, owing mostly to advanced economies, but also to China.”
Wherever your company has a presence, the fact remains the same: college, university and technical graduates are increasingly crucial.
The Struggle for Low-Income Students
Unfortunately, degree attainment remains toughest for the students with the most to gain: students from low-income households. Talent, drive and skill are getting more first-generation and low-income students into American universities, but their struggle to pay for school is keeping far too many of them from graduating.
As this New York Times article describes: “[H]alf of Americans in the top fourth of the income distribution have a college degree. Among the poorest fourth of Americans, fewer than one in 10 graduated from college. And the gap is growing.” With college costs skyrocketing and state funding for universities stagnant or falling, it’s no surprise that the number-one reason these students cite for dropping out is the impossibility of paying for school.
Innovative Solutions -- And Simple Ones
Education innovators have discussed a variety of solutions, many of them compelling -- more interactive and online learning for working adults; high-school/college partnerships that get talented kids into college earlier; and a renewed focus on two-year community and technical programs, which are often more flexible than four-year colleges, and graduate students more quickly.
But financial barriers still remain. As this report on two-year college access reiterates, “finding the money to pay for the full cost of attendance, including absorbing the loss of income due to time spent studying rather than working, is one of the most difficult barriers underprivileged students must overcome.”
And that’s why scholarships are one of the simplest -- and most important -- ways to have an impact on the workforce. Scholarships help fill the gap between the cost of college and a student’s financial aid, meaning they don’t have to choose between working long hours, taking out expensive loans or dropping out.
By supporting scholarships, you’re providing a lifeline to talented but underprivileged students. And the flexibility of private scholarships means that those students can pursue their dream school, rather than choosing based solely on cost. When your company provides scholarships, more students across the world can attend the schools that fit them best. That means higher graduation rates. And that means a stronger global workforce with a more secure future.