Millions of jobs across the U.S. have vanished in the months since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and many Arkansans may have to gain new skills or refresh the ones they have to navigate the jobs landscape amid the economic fallout from the public health crisis.
According to new Lumina Foundation data, Arkansas ranks among the lowest in the nation for education attainment after high school, whether it be a college degree or industry certification.
Jeff Strohl, director of research at Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, says for adults with no formal education beyond high school, the coronavirus will likely severely curb job prospects and could trigger long-term unemployment among millions.
"Since we're entered into the horrid pandemic recession, certifications are going to become very core to some of our re-skilling and re-employment efforts," he stresses.
But, the Arkansas has made strides in post-secondary education.
The Lumina Foundation report says 43% of Arkansans now hold some form of post-high school credentials. That's up 17% since 2008.
Courtney Brown, Lumina Foundation vice president for strategic impact, says industry certifications typically take less time and money to earn than degrees, and can improve job prospects, especially in fields such as health care, education and government services.
"People with certifications and no other postsecondary credential are more likely to be employed than those without them," she points out. "We know that they make higher salaries, are more likely to be promoted and have greater job satisfaction than those without."