What Minnesota is producing too many of, and what it needs more of


I’ve been meaning for ages to get to this.

A lot has been said about how many degrees and certificates workers will need in the coming years — much of it based on findings by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

But Mark Misukanis, former director of finance and research for the state Office of Higher Education, had a follow-up question:

“Well how many (degrees) are we producing? You can’t just talk about demand. You have to talk about capacity.”

In a report he did last year for the Minnesota Career College Association (see the document above), he made an interesting finding:

Even with relatively aggressive assumptions from the Georgetown study about educational attainment needs, the state may be producing more associate degrees than will be needed by the economy and is about in line with bachelor degree production. The market may be in certificate production.

(The bold print is my doing.) I believe that’s on the third page.

The numbers behind that assessment are in the table on pages 22 and 23.

When I called him, he told me Minnesota produces more than 16,700 associate’s degrees a year even though Georgetown and state Department of Employment and Economic Development data suggests we need just 11,600 or so.

We produce more than 33,500 bachelors degrees. Misukanis estimates we need about 33,200. He comes to that number by adding up bachelor’s, masters and doctorates, assuming that those achieving advanced degrees need to receive bachelor’s degrees first.

As for certificates, Minnesota awarded more than 13,700 — even though the demand is more like 18,800.

(The data appears to be a couple years old, but Misukanis says the numbers shouldn’t have changed much.)

Misukanis hasn’t gone into exactly what areas the degrees or certificates are in.

But generally speaking, the data suggests that the education demand is more for blue-collar vocational jobs — which tend to require certificates — than for lower level white collar jobs, which tend to require associate’s degrees.

Misukanis says he’s hoping to look into the matter further in the coming months.

The work is some of what he’s been doing as a consultant. His little think tank is Research to Public Policy, whose website can be found here.

The site says Misukanis’s group includes a number of Minnesota public-policy experts.