The essence of work is changing. Many of the careers that will exist in a decade have not yet been imagined. Automation is forcing employers to alter the tasks of today’s workers; in some cases, technology will completely replace those workers. We are truly in the age of the knowledge economy. Our workforce needs to be populated with critical thinkers and agile learners who are comfortable with change. In Louisiana — and everywhere else around the nation — an increasing number of these new and transformed jobs will require a college degree. This is why higher education remains crucial for our state’s future economic development efforts.
As state legislators attempt to address the state budget shortfall, they should not neglect the needs of our state colleges and universities. The only way Louisiana can truly flourish is with a healthy system of higher education that receives stable funding.
I think about the major public university in my own city — the University of New Orleans (one of my three Louisiana alma maters). According to a 2016 economic development study, for every $1 Louisiana spends on the University of New Orleans, the university generates another $17. That is a staggeringly productive investment. Employers around the state have never been so reliant upon today’s graduates of our state’s public institutions. They are the next-generation workforce that will thrive in this new economy, but only if we prioritize their education and our universities.
Robert A. “Bobby” Savoie