New Report Finds the Best Education Pathways Out of Jobless Recovery

New Report Finds the Best Education Pathways Out of Jobless Recovery

Washington DC

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce releases new report in collaboration with the National Research Center for Career and the Technical Education and the National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education.

The report entitled Career Clusters: Forecasting Demand for High School Through College Jobs, 2008-2018, identifies 16 career clusters which represent the full array of related occupational opportunities and education requirements. Findings show that for those with high school diplomas, decent jobs still exist but there are not enough to go around. Only one in three of high school-level jobs will pay wages of $35,000 or more; although in some cases, with experience, these jobs can provide up to $50,000.

High school-level jobs are found in four male dominated career clusters: manufacturing, construction, transportation, and hospitality. Of these four clusters, only jobs in manufacturing and construction still pay relatively good wages; particularly for those who obtain on-the-job-training. The study confirms that women need postsecondary education to earn the same wages as men with only a high school diploma. For instance, whereas a man can earn $35,000 with a high school diploma in the manufacturing career cluster, a woman must obtain a postsecondary credential and work in healthcare to earn as much.

In many industries the overall number of jobs will decline through 2018 but there will still be job openings available due to retirement.  For example, the study finds that there will be 181,000 fewer manufacturing jobs over the decade but there will be 3 million job openings in manufacturing by 2018.

Middle-skill jobs have promise for those who acquire some level of postsecondary education or training but not a Bachelor’s degree. For women, middle-skill jobs are the minimum threshold for a better career. One in two of these middle jobs provide career pathways leading to median wages of roughly $40,000.  Such jobs are concentrated in six career clusters: manufacturing, marketing, transportation, healthcare, business and hospitality.  The fastest growing career clusters for middle-skills are in healthcare (21 percent) and hospitality (12 percent).

Workers with Bachelor’s and graduate degrees have the most positive outlook. Five out of six jobs available for workers with Bachelor’s pay more than $35,000 a year and average $60,000. Seventy-two percent of jobs available for workers with a Bachelor’s degree or better are found in nine occupational clusters. Yet at this education level, all career clusters are essentially accessible.

In addition to the full national report, Career Clusters contains an executive summary and a state-level analysis of jobs by career cluster. All three documents are available online at Hard copies can be obtained by contacting the Center at

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between individual goals, education and training curricula, and career pathways.

The National Research Center for Career and Technical Education (NRCCTE) is the primary agent for generating scientifically based research, dissemination, professional development, and technical assistance to improve career and technical education. The NRCCTE currently receives funding from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

The National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium (NASDCTEc) represent the state and territory heads of secondary, postsecondary, and adult career technical education across the nation. Through leadership, advocacy and partnerships, NASDCTEc aims to support an innovative CTE system that prepares individuals to succeed in education and their careers, and poises the United States to flourish in a global, dynamic economy.


Andrea Porter, 202-687-4922

Kirsten Sundell, 502-852-0616

Erin Uy, 301-641-9358