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Learn more to earn more How important is a college education? It s critical to your future wealth, health and pursuit of happiness, says Mark Becker, president of Georgia State University. "The jobs of today and tomorrow will require a college education," he said. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For individuals with only a high school diploma (9.4 percent) or who never graduated from high school (14.1 percent), those jobless numbers were much higher. The average annual wage in Georgia in 2012 for high school graduates was $38,170, compared to $68,958 for four year college graduates, a Georgia Department of Labor wage survey found. "Statistics also show that people with a college degree live longer and better," Becker said. "Because they have more employment opportunities, they have better access to health care. About 92 percent of full time working college grads have health insurance, versus 75 percent for working high school graduates and less than 50 percent for high school dropouts." College has moved well beyond cramming facts and knowledge into students brains, Becker said. "College is where you learn to think for yourself, express yourself and solve problems. It broadens your horizons, exposes you to different sales on ugg boots viewpoints and gives you an increased level of confidence to deal with life s ups and downs. The breadth of experience develops your ability to learn for a lifetime." More educated work force Lifelong learning is necessary to deal with the rate at which the world is changing. The jobs of the future haven t even been invented yet, and no one knows what skills will be required. Tomorrow s workers will have to be adaptable, better educated and possess a higher level of skills. "Georgia is lucky to have a diversified australian boots ugg economy, but there just aren t a whole lot of jobs out there for unskilled labor. Even warehousing jobs require some level of technical skill," said Mark Butler, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Labor. Butler cited the example of the carpet industry, which has streamlined many operations and wants employees with advanced skills to operate more technical equipment. "A high school [diploma] is no longer enough. Almost everything in the job market requires more education and training," he said. But not everyone needs a four year bachelor s degree to launch a career. "We have the best technical college system in the nation. It offers certificates of credit, diplomas and associate degrees that are directly attuned to industry needs," Butler said. "About 60 percent of all new jobs created in the next decade will require some postsecondary education because technology is embedded in every industry," said Ronald Jackson, commissioner of the Technical College System of Georgia. "We engage local business and industry to tell us their needs, and we develop the programs on our 25 campuses accordingly. That focus is important because Georgia needs a skilled and viable work force to attract the companies who will keep our economy growing and thriving."A college degree alone is no longer enough to entice employers. They also want prospective workers with experience and real world skills. "People need to know how to do things and to think critically in order to work in Georgia s growing industries, which include health care, aviation, logistics, information technology, bioscience, education construction, technical trades and more," Jackson said. "Our mission as a technical college system is very work force development driven. That makes us unique among Georgia s educational enterprises." With employers seeking real world skills, more colleges are promoting student internships and work experiences. More high school graduates and underemployed working adults are finding cost effective ways of gaining employable skills, such as technical or professional certificates of credit that can provide entry into the job market. For many, access and cost remain the biggest barriers to postsecondary education. Fortunately, Georgia has invested in initiatives and programs to help students break those barriers. "The HOPE scholarship and HOPE grant programs are among the strongest in the country, and have opened college doors for citizens," Jackson said. The Technical College System of Georgia has made it possible for many people who didn t graduate from high school to improve their prospects by earning a GED diploma. "We estimate that 1.2 million Georgians have less than a high school education but in 2010, 19,006 students earned their GED diplomas," Jackson said. Preparing high school students A curriculum of 17 Career Ready Clusters/Pathways is helping middle and high school students in Georgia focus their course work toward future careers. Go Build Georgia, a marketing campaign developed by the Governor s Office of Workplace Development and others, is helping students explore career opportunities in the skilled trades. Georgia Best and Georgia Work Ready are initiatives to prepare students with the work ethics and soft skills needed for today s job market. The Alliance of Georgia Education Agency Heads meets monthly joslyn ugg boots to strengthen collaboration between Georgia s educational organizations . "We want to break down barriers, increase the pipeline and get more high school students ready for college," Jackson said. "I believe we re a unique entity in the country." Georgia s Higher Education Completion Plan calls for 60 percent of the state s young adults to hold a college certificate or degree by 2020. The current percentage is 42 percent, compared to 56 percent in Japan and 63 percent in Korea.

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