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Can Continuing Education Build Job Security?

Companies are downsizing. Work is being sent abroad where labor rates are lower. Entire departments in large companies are being eliminated and employees with seniority are enticed into early retirement. In an age where there are no guarantees, many professionals are re-evaluating the promise of job security as they leap-frog from employer to employer. The one constant: ongoing education increases your value to employers.

Today, workers are more interested in “career security” than “job security.” With constant innovations in time/labor-saving technology, seasoned workplace veterans are forced to compete with recent college grads for slots in their own companies. Many hop to new employers just to remain in their pay bracket. It’s not simply a matter of moving up the rung in your career. Continuing education is now a survival prerequisite if you even hope to hold your place on the ladder.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, some 3.5 million Americans (13 percent of the male workforce and 7.5 percent of working women) between 20 and 65 years of age decided to study full time at colleges, universities, and trade schools rather than to work at underpaying jobs.

Continued Education and Earning Power
In addition to improving job security, continued education affects earning power as well. Plenty of recent evidence affirms continuing education equals higher pay across the board.Ongoing education boosts earning power. The U.S. Department of Labor found 48 of the top 50 highest-paying professions in the country require job candidates to hold college degrees. According to former Senior Economist at the Federal Reserve Board, Eric Engen, “Earnings for the group with more education are always higher, rise and fall more steeply, and peak at later ages than do earnings for the group with less education.”

Even if you’re laid off or have to train for a new position, you’ll have more money in the bank–and enjoy greater economic breathing room while you hit the books–than if you quit learning too soon. Look at the following projectedlifelong earnings by educational attainment:

Ongoing education can provide a solid hedge against both international competition and a recession economy for those who have to shift careers or develop skills that keep them in demand. For 15 of the 20 occupations with the largest expected job growth — a bachelor’s or higher degree is the most significant source of postsecondary education or training.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that these occupations will be among the 30 that undergo the greatest job growth over the next decade:

By earning degrees or advanced training, the Census Bureau says, workers also significantly increased their chances of retaining their jobs during times of chronic illnesses, or disability.

Publish date: April 1, 2008