February Engage Breakfast to highlight education's impact on Austin-area job market

Continuing the conversation from January's Engage Breakfast, the February breakfast will focus on the role that education plays in Austin's job market.

"[Education is] critical, absolutely critical," said Susan Dawson, president and executive director of E3 Alliance and one of the panelists at the breakfast. "What we are seeing is that we have two very strong, absolutely competing changes in the world around us. One of those is that the skills and knowledge required for 21st-century jobs is vastly different from it was in the past. It is almost impossible to find a living-wage job without some post-secondary credentials."

The second change Dawson cited is that the "demographic groups that are growing by far the fastest are the ones that have been traditionally most challenged in reaching higher levels of educational attainment."

E3 Alliance is a local data-driven education collaborative that helps build better communication throughout the education community. According to data from E3, 75.3 percent of those with less than a high school degree earn $19 an hour or less, and the unemployment rate for that group is about 7.2 percent. Only 29.1 percent of those with a bachelor's degree or higher make $19 an hour or less, and the unemployment rate in that demographic about 3.3 percent.

Dawson said that though the nation as a whole is improving the education it provides to children, that improvement falls short on a global scale.

"The problem is, in this environment where the expectations are higher and demographics are working against us incremental change is still losing ground in the global economy," she said.

The breakfast is at 7:30 a.m. Feb. 5 in the Kodosky Donor Lounge at the Long Center for the Performing Arts. The panel is to include Denise Trauth, president of Texas State University; Vincent Torres, president of the Austin ISD board of trustees; Dawson; and Terry Smith, executive director of the Education Service Center for Region XIII. The breakfast will be moderated by Erin Cargile of KXAN-TV.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.leadershipaustin.org/programs/engage/upcoming.

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