What Drives (and Improves) Economic and Productivity Growth in a Community?
States that invest in education help build a strong foundation for economic success and prosperity, according to the 2013 Economic Analysis and Research Network report, "A Well-Educated Workforce is Key to State Prosperity." Education is the foundation to providing people from disadvantaged backgrounds with decent health care and sufficient nutrition, the report found.
Educating the workforce also equates to greater productivity. Economic Policy Institute analysis found that between 1979 and 2007, states with greater productivity also had increased median worker compensation, thus supporting the strong link between productivity and education. In other words, providing access to high-quality education and creating an educated workforce that earns higher wages strengthens the economic infrastructure of a state-and the implications for local communities are no different.
High school diplomas are commonly the jumping-off point to such improvements, as is continuing education to cultivate a skilled and productive workforce. By abstaining from providing sufficient investments in education, including investments in nontraditional academic partnerships and high school diploma programs, local companies, businesses and talent markets all suffer and weaken over time. The report refers to this condition as a "virtuous cycle" that results in chronic challenges. The self-evident insight is that accessible educational opportunities produce a higher quality of life for these educated individuals. These highly skilled, well-educated, employed professionals support the local economy. Without education as a communal cornerstone, the economic stability of a community is at risk and usually the broader region deteriorates.
Education serves as a tool for boosting productivity and redistributing the increased income into returned higher wages for workers. To help provide greater productivity and positive economic returns for their communities, high schools, career and vocational schools, and traditional colleges should create educational alternatives and diverse learning possibilities to promote academic achievement.
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