Wyoming has largest share of good-paying jobs for noncollege workers, report shows

By: Hamza Butt

Wyoming has the country’s largest share of good jobs for workers without a four-year degree, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce report released Wednesday.

Half of Wyoming jobs provide living wages of $35,000 or better for high school graduates without a bachelor’s degree, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce’s 2015 data. (https://goodjobsdata.org/).

Nationally, however, one million fewer nondegree workers have jobs today than 25 years ago. Associate’s degree holders have gained 3.2 million good jobs in the same span, highlighting the importance of community colleges to the economy.

A video accompanying the Center on Education and the Workforce’s report emphasized that it is vital in this changing economy to connect colleges with employers. The strategy has been at the forefront of Wyoming’s approach to secondary education.

Public and private entities have invested $417.5 million in community college facilities across the state since 2007, according to information compiled by the Wyoming Business Report (http://tinyurl.com/collegeinvestment).

Education experts nationally have taken notice.

A 2016 SmartAsset study named Casper College, Sheridan College, Laramie County Community College and Western Wyoming Community College among the top 100 community colleges in the country based on graduation rates, transfer rates, in-state tuition, student to teacher ratios and the ratio of average starting salary to the overall cost (http://tinyurl.com/smartassetcollege). A WalletHub report the same year also included three Wyoming community colleges among the top 75 nationally (http://tinyurl.com/wallethubwyo).

CNBC ranked Wyoming among the top three smartest states in 2016 based on elementary math and reading test scores and ACT and SAT results (http://tinyurl.com/cnbcsmartwyo).

Value College called Western Wyoming the best-value community college in 2016. Laramie County Community College was among the top 35 (http://tinyurl.com/valuecollegeswyo).

This latest report from the Center on Education and the Workforce comes against the backdrop of a statewide initiative, dubbed the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW), commissioned by Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature. ENDOW’s goal is to set the direction of the state’s economy for the next 20 years.

Workforce training and a secondary education network reactive to industry needs, led by the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges, will be at the forefront of ENDOW’s strategy.

That training will include the growing services industry – in sectors like finances and health – which has added four million good jobs. Those numbers more than offset the 2.8 million good jobs lost in manufacturing, according to the Center on Education and the Workforce report.