To fill the nation’s need for 55 million new and skilled workers by 2020, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) is positioned to help more Americans attain critical postsecondary career education goals, President and CEO Steve Gunderson said.
“We now recognize that postsecondary career education is increasingly the path to real skills, real jobs, real wages and a real chance at America’s middle class,” the former Republican congressman from Wisconsin told Higher Education Tribune. “Our association is reflecting this change as we become the voice for postsecondary career education, regardless of a school’s corporate structure."
In addition to the 55 million new workers needed over the next five years, 32 million of them will be needed to replace retiring baby-boomers, he said. And of this 32 million, 65 percent will require some level of postsecondary education.
“The other 23 million will take jobs that don’t even exist today,” Gunderson said, adding that 85 percent of them also will need to have some level of postsecondary education.
As part of the solution, APSCU this month began an initiative called “Shortage of Skills" (SOS). Each month it will profile an SOS problem in one key U.S. industry that’s considered to be critical to the nation’s economic advancement. APSCU experts also will explain how a well-educated and well-trained workforce can address such issues.
“In this first month we looked at truck drivers because of the demand for transportation during the holiday season,” Gunderson said. “We are looking at a shortage today of 45,000 to 50,000 drivers and that number will increase.”
Gunderson added there also will be great demand for many of the careers offered by APSCU member schools, including: allied health, culinary arts, skilled trades (including electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, etc.), automotive and diesel technicians, IT repair and installation technicians, and business management experts, among others.
The focus on postsecondary career education, especially among the two-year and less academic programs, he said, “becomes critically important as we seek to achieve the goal of 60 percent of American workers with some level of postsecondary academic award.”