Expert predicts shortage of college grads in California

A commission that's developing a new vision for the University of California system was told today that cutting the state's budget for education works against the long-term interests of the state.

Mark Baldassare, the president and chief executive of the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan think tank, told the UC Commission on the Future at a meeting in Oakland today that, “We need to do more, not less” in terms of funding higher education.

Baldassare said that in the near future the state will face a severe shortage of college graduates needed for important jobs unless there's a concerted effort to better fund higher education and encourage young people to attend and graduate from college.

“The supply of college graduates is not likely to keep up with the demand,” he said.

Robert Reich, a public policy professor at UC Berkeley who was Secretary of Labor under President Clinton, said funding for higher education could be lacking for a long time because he doesn't think the economy will improve significantly anytime soon.

He said he expects unemployment to be high and revenues to be low for quite a while.

Reich said a variety of revenue-raising measures for higher education should be considered, including “a small surcharge” on large companies with more than 5,000 employees.

He said large companies “reap enormous benefits” by hiring skilled employees who graduate from the UC system.

The committee's meeting today is its second, and is one of a series of meetings it is holding around the state. Its sixth and final meeting will be on March 23.

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