Environmental Scanning

Skills Gaps: A Review of Underlying Concepts and Evidence

Employers have long cited an inadequately skilled workforce as the primary reason jobs go unfilled. However, there is considerable debate over whether a mismatch truly exists between workers' skills and employers' needs. A report from the Congressional Research Service, Skills Gaps: A Review of Underlying Concepts and Evidence, notes the possibility of other contributing factors such as:

Colleges Scramble to Recruit Students as Enrollment Plunges

The Washington Post recently reported that enrollment at colleges nationwide "has shrunk more than five percent since 2019." However, the impact has been greater on regional colleges and universities that serve disadvantaged students. For example, institutions in the western region of Pennsylvania have been affected by stagnant population growth, the pandemic, and increasing wages that make working a more appealing option than studying.

First-Generation College Graduates Lag Behind Peers

Numerous studies have correlated educational attainment with wealth attainment. Earning at least a bachelor's degree is associated with better economic outcomes, including higher wages and lower rates of unemployment. However, a study by Pew Research Center revealed an economic disparity between first generation college graduates versus those who had at least one college-educated parent.

Higher Education R&D Increase in FY20 is the Lowest since FY15

The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics released a report, Higher Education R&D Increase of 3.3% in FY 2020 is the Lowest since FY 2015. From FY 2019 to FY 2020, research and development spending by academic institutions experienced the slowest growth since the four years of decreasing federal funding from FY 2012 to FY 2015.

Report on International Students in Science and Engineering

International Students in Science and Engineering is a policy brief published by the National Foundation for American Policy. International students constitute a significant portion of graduate student populations at U.S. institutions. This benefits American students by allowing domestic universities to offer high-quality academic programs in science and engineering. Foreign nationals who remain in the U.S. after graduation are a source of talent for U.S. employers and contribute to scientific research and technological innovation.

Report on the Condition of Education

The Condition of Education is an annual report mandated by the U.S. Congress that summarizes the latest data on education in the United States. This report uses data collected by various sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics. It is designed to help policymakers and the public monitor educational progress.

The Condition of Education website allows users to explore the data by indicator topics and subgroups: Condition of Education (COE)/Home.