Rural Americans are increasingly educated, but compared with urban areas, they lag behind in the number of adults with college degrees, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But in Wyoming, a local researcher has released an online tool to help workers follow educational paths to local employment.
The gap in the percentage of college-educated workers in urban versus rural areas may be because of the higher wages offered to skilled workers in urban areas, which pulls those with college degrees away from rural communities. And the report from the Department of Agriculture says that dynamic can stunt economic growth in rural areas.
Tom Gallagher, from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, said in response to the report, that this out-migration is nothing new. But what is new, is a tool to help Wyomingites make informed choices about education and career. Gallagher and his team created an online database called Wyoming Career Assist.
Gallagher said,“You can look at the prior experience of people who made educational choices in Wyoming to follow a particular path and you can see what their outcome in the market was.” And he added, “you can decide what matches up with your wishes, with your family’s expectations and make a reasonable choice.”
Gallagher said before these decisions were just a shot in the dark. The data available through Wyoming Career Assist allows workers to look at a range of issues related to education and career, Gallagher said like, “What are the odds that I am going to get a job that pays at a wage that allows me to repay my student loan?”
Gallagher said educators, policymakers and the business community concerned with the state’s workforce future might also find the database insightful.