By Cassie McKenzie-Baeten, program coordinator, Columbia College-Guantanamo Bay

Following the 2008 “Great Recession,” an increasing number of employers’ preferences have shifted to wanting employees with college experience. Most of the jobs created after the Great Recession were filled by college-educated workers. According to a report from the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University, of the 11.6 million jobs created after the Great Recession, 8.4 million of them went to individuals with at least a bachelor’s degree, and another three million of those jobs went to individuals with associate degrees or some college education.

Americans who never attended college were hit the hardest by the Great Recession, and they have still not recovered from this loss. According to a June 2016 article for CNN Money by Tami Luhby, a total of 7.2 million jobs were lost between December 2007 and January 2010. Out of the jobs lost, 5.6 million were jobs that required no higher education. Only one percent of these jobs have been recovered over the past six years. Manufacturing occupations, which are usually held by people with only high school degrees, make up a large portion of the 5.6 million jobs that were lost and these positions are still down by 1 million positions.

There has been an increasing decline in the number of Americans that make up our workforce who have only obtained a high school diploma. In 2016, for the first time ever, college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher made up a large portion of the labor market, with 36 percent of the market. Those without higher education made up only 34 percent of the labor market. This shift in the workforce makes a college degree imperative in the years to come.