Help wanted. Postsecondary education needed.

Here’s the good news: Idaho is poised for job growth well ahead of the national average.

And here’s the challenge facing Idaho: Most of these new jobs will require postsecondary education, when Idaho’s college graduation is among the lowest in the nation.

Those are two findings from a national study released Wednesday by Georgetown University, and its Center on Education and the Workforce.

A few key facts and figures from the Idaho report:

  • Idaho will create 158,000 new jobs by 2020, and its 22 percent job growth outstrips the national average of 17 percent. On top of the new job creation, an additional 131,000 jobs will open up as Idaho baby boomers retire.
  • By 2020, 68 percent of Idaho jobs will require some postsecondary education, compared to 65 percent nationally.
  • Some of the state’s fastest-growing industries and occupations are ones requiring college degrees — or at least some postsecondary education. Jobs in education are expected to increase by 26 percent by 2020 (to 44,420 jobs overall), for example. Professional and technical jobs in the health care industry are poised for a 34 percent jump.

Idaho will hardly be the only state shopping for educated workers. The nation will face a “major shortage” of college-educated workers, as baby boomers retire, said Anthony Carnevale, director of the center.

This news comes as Idaho education and political leaders are hoping to boost the state’s lagging college attendance numbers. The State Board of Education has set a lofty goal: By 2020, the board wants 60 percent of the state’s 25- to 34-year-olds to have a postsecondary degree or certificate. According to 2010 Census data for Idaho, only 35 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds held a postsecondary career; the national average was 40.1 percent.


Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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