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Secondary education, economic prospects and the future

Editor’s note: This is the second segment in a two-part series on the importance of education determining economic prospects for Spring Valley and its residents.

SPRING VALLEY — In the second part of a community-wide education forum in Spring Valley earlier this week, Illinois Valley Community College President Jerry Corcoran continued discussion on the importance of high school students continuing on to post-secondary education.

Accompanied by Fran Brolley, director of community relations at IVCC, they reported on the statistics that clearly link academic achievements with economic prosperity.

Corcoran said 65 percent of all jobs in the economy nationwide will require post-secondary education and training beyond high school by 2020. There is also expected to be 55 million job openings and 24 million newly-created jobs through the baby boomers’ retirements.

“Jobs that are going away are those that don’t require a high school diploma,” he confirmed. “The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics have shown the connection between education, unemployment and earnings.”

Corcoran said in Illinois, 12.7 percent of the adult population did not finish high school and have average earnings of about $21,000 yearly. There are 27.3 percent of the adult population who finished high school and are making an average of $28,313 each year. There are 28.7 percent of individuals who have some college or an associate degree and are earning about $35,000 a year. There are 19.4 percent of individuals who have a four-year college degree and earn on average about $52,000 a year.

Based on the information Corcoran presented, the more education individuals get, the more earnings they bring in on an annual basis. The data was compared to the statistics collected within IVCC’s three dominant counties — LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam.

In this local region, there are 11.7 percent of individuals who didn’t graduate from high school who make on average about $22,000 per year. There are 38.8 percent of those who have a high school diploma or GED and are making on average $28,000. Those with some college or an associate degree make $33,000 per year; those with a bachelor’s degree bring in on average $43,000 a year; and 5.1 percent have a graduate’s degree and make on average $57,000 a year.

“There is a trend here,” Corcoran said. “This data to me captures the connection between education and earnings.”

At IVCC, they call the connection between education and earnings the “million dollar difference.”

“Drop out of high school and expect a lifetime earnings of about $595,000 over your entire working career,” Corcoran said. “Finish high school and it’s about double that — a million dollars. Go get an associate’s degree from IVCC, and it’s a million and a half, which is a substantial difference.”

Corcoran said the statistics are why it’s imperial to spread the message to high-schoolers. An education after high school is needed today in order to fill local high-skilled jobs, maintain a middle class life and achieve economic prosperity.

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