News Column

More Latinos Graduating from College

March 26, 2012

Latinos are making major strides in college completion although they continue to trail whites, African-Americans and Asian-Americans in several key areas, a new report says. During the past decade, the number of Hispanics with a bachelor's degree or higher increased by 80 percent to 3.8 million, says Excelencia in Education, based in Washington, D.C.

However, only 21 percent of Latino adults have an associate degree or higher, compared to 57 percent of Asian-Americans, 44 percent of whites and 30 percent of African-Americans.

"Latino college completion is increasing, but gaps remain," said Deborah Santiago, Excelencia's vice president of policy and research. The Finding Your Workforce: The Top 25 Institutions Graduating Latinos in Key Sectors, 2009-10, report also focused on a specific school year to examine college success trends. For example, Latinos needed to earn 240,000 degrees in 2010 to stay on course to help meet President Obama's college completion goals, Santiago said. That year, Latinos far exceeded that goal, with 360,000 earning degrees.

However, Latino students were heavily concentrated at a small number of colleges and universities. For example, 30 percent graduated from one of the top 25 institutions producing Latino graduates. Most of these were Hispanic-serving institutions with high rates of Latino enrollment, she said. "We need to celebrate the progress and know that more needs to be done," Santiago said.

Hispanic educational attainment will have a significant impact on the future U.S. workforce, said Emily DeRocco, president of The Manufacturing Institute.

"In the next decade, 63 percent of new jobs will require postsecondary education. Latinos will account for 74 percent of labor force growth during that time; therefore, education and workforce development are critical issue for this population," DeRocco said.

"The influx of Latinos with these credentials will be critical for America's future economic system."

U.S. manufacturers today have critical skill shortages. More than 80 percent report moderate to serious shortages of skilled workers, with 600,000 job vacancies open to highly educated, skilled workers. "Employers can't find qualified persons to fill all the positions," DeRocco said.

Looking across all of postsecondary education, Hispanics in 2010 represented 13 percent of enrolled students and 10 percent of those earning certificates and degrees.

Source: (C) 2012 Chicago Daily Herald. via ProQuest Information and Learning Company; All Rights Reserved

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