Education Secretary Arne Duncan ascribed at least part of the nation’s ongoing economic weakness to poor education, as he called on state governors to maintain funding for college education.
“Do we have a jobs crisis or do we have a skills crisis? I’m more and more concerned that we have a skills crisis,” Duncan told the National Governors Association today. “By some counts its over two million high-wage, high-skill jobs that we can’t fill today.”
Duncan noted today and in a statement yesterday that the United States has dropped to 16th worldwide in terms of the percentage of adults with college degrees.
He faulted state governors for cutting education funding. “We’ve made some progress, but the combination of deep state budget cuts and rising tuition prices is pushing an affordable college education out of reach for middle class families,” Duncan said in a statement yesterday. “As the President has said, the countries that out-educate today will out-compete us tomorrow. The federal government has done a tremendous amount to increase the amount of aid available to students. But we need states and institutions to meet us halfway by doing more to keep college costs down.”
The White House has framed issues such as student loan interest rate increases as economic issues, as Republicans have gone on offense about the persistently high national unemployment rate.