A new report warns South Carolina will face a shortage of skilled, college-educated workers that could hurt its economic growth within the next decades.
The study by two University of South Carolina research economists predicts the state will have a shortfall of over 100,000 graduating students with the necessary hiring skills by 2030 if its current trends hold. USC economists Joey Von Nessen and Doug Woodward conducted the study on behalf of the “Competing Through Knowledge” initiative, which is itself a coalition of business and higher education officials.
Based on economic and demographic trends, Woodward and Von Nessen project that South Carolina will have a shortfall of 44,010 workers holding two-year degrees and 70,540 workers who hold bachelor’s degrees or higher by 2030.
“I think it’s a reality check for South Carolina,” said S.C. Business Leaders Higher Education Council member (and former governor) Jim Hodges. “The point of this study is… there are going to be substantially increased needs in everything from two-year graduates to four-year graduates.”
He said companies could look elsewhere to move or expand if that shortfall occurs 16 years from now.
The study predicts the largest shortfall for two-year degrees will be in nursing, which accounted for nearly 40 percent of the projected deficit. Construction and operations managers will also be in short supply, the study estimates.
Among jobs requiring a four-year bachelor’s degree, the study predicts the largest shortfall will be elementary school teachers, followed by accountants and auditors.
“If South Carolina is going to thrive as we all wish, meeting the educational needs of our growing economy has to be a top priority,” said retired Michelin executive Jim Morton, who is helping spearhead the “Competing for Knowledge” effort. “Our state needs a comprehensive plan.”