The Union Recorder

February 26, 2014

Opportunities key to retaining locals after graduation

The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — Nearly every local conversation on economic development includes mention of the need to retain local graduates, among the best and brightest, here in Baldwin County.

Providing new avenues for high school graduates to earn advanced education and expand their employment options is one way to do that. One such move in that direction is the effort underway to allow Georgia Military College campuses to offer four-year degrees. 

Legislation has moved through channels in the House and is now in the Senate for approval. House Bill 763 unanimously passed the House Higher Education Committee last week and the House Rules Committee Monday.

A plan to offer a bachelor’s degree program locally at GMC will not only help support GMC students but also CGTC students. The program will assist graduates of institutions under the Technical College System of Georgia, such as CGTC, attaining four-year bachelor’s degrees.

In October 2012, Central Georgia Technical College President Dr. Ivan Allen allowed GMC to survey CGTC students to determine if there was an interest in the bachelor of applied science degree program. Of the 587 respondents, 385 students indicated an interest in pursuing the four-year degree at GMC.

Providing more training and education options for local students not only helps them individually, it also helps bolster the local tax base and economic development — if we keep them here. According to data from the Certified Literate Community Program increased education also means increased tax revenues for state and local government as the average state and local taxes paid by a taxpayer is around $8,900 for a bachelor’s degree.

Nationally, the pay gap based on education has steadily widened in recent years. New data from Pew Research indicates that for people 25 to 32 — part of the so-called millennial generation — the gap in earnings between college graduates and those with a high school diploma or less has never been greater.

A 2011 study indicated that people with a bachelor’s degree make 84 percent more over the course of a lifetime than high school graduates, an earning increase from 1999 when the same study indicated a bachelor’s degree resulted in a 75 percent earnings increase.

The picture for less-educated workers is increasingly growing bleaker. As employers increasingly tout the need for education and training beyond high school to fill today’s jobs there’s certainly value for any community to offer as many training options as possible. Offering another alternative for a four-year degree in Milledgeville is a sound, supportive means that can help one day retain local students as local taxpaying, working  professionals.