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Editorial: Good jobs on horizon, but workers need skills

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The good news is hundreds of thousands of new jobs are expected to be available in 2020 in New Mexico. The bad news is a new study claims there won’t be enough qualified people to fill them.

A report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that by 2020 there should be 335,000 new openings in New Mexico but only 152,000 people who will have the education and skills needed to take them.

Nationally, the report says, there should be 55 million new jobs but the nation will be shy 5 million workers to fill them; 65 percent of the openings will require some postsecondary education and training.

“If the U.S. Congress can deal with budgetary challenges, we are on schedule for recovery,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the center, a nonprofit research and policy institute. “But we will still face a major shortage of college-educated workers, especially as baby boomers retire.”

The report says of the 335,000 New Mexico jobs, 127,000 will require only a high school diploma, 119,000 will require some college or an associate’s degree, 52,000 will require a bachelor’s degree and 37,000 will require a master’s degree or higher.

The hot career fields will be in health care, education and food and personal services.

Extraction industries – oil and gas, mining and quarrying – are expected to grow the most at 38 percent. Blue collar jobs will grow the least.

It’s great that all these new jobs are on the horizon, but the report highlights the need for New Mexico to get its education system on track to produce workers with the skills for the next decade and to diversify its economy so it is not so dependent upon government.

Sooner, rather than later.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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