What Could the Future of Shasta County’s Economy Look Like?

Today, I want to talk about the future of Shasta County’s economy. To think about the future of the economy, we must start by understanding the current state of education in our community.

First, the good news. We have one of the higher rates of high school graduation in the state, outperforming the state average.

Second, we are quite good at getting our kids to enroll in some type of college program.

However, only a small portion of our college students leave with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Why does this matter to our economy? Because historically, income maps to educational attainment very closely - and median incomes only rise significantly when you obtain a bachelor’s degree.

Does this mean that we should be pushing everyone to complete a bachelor’s degree?

While I’d like to see us continue to do more to help our students be successful in 4-year degrees, I don’t think we should be pushing everyone in that direction. I agree with the motto of the Reach Higher, a collaborative funded in part by the County’s Department of Public Health - “every student, every option.” I attended 4-year college and earned two Bachelor's of Science degrees, one in Mechanical Engineering and another in Psychology - but I don’t believe that is the right path for everyone.

The percentage of Shasta County residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher is quite consistent across generations, ranging from 22% to 27%. Rather, some college is a better fit for many of the people living here - and the good news is that increasingly careers that require some college, an associate’s degree, or a certificate are short on workers.

NPR reported this February: “High-paying jobs that don't need a college degree? Thousands of them sit empty.” The Public Policy Institute of California predicted the need for workers with some college experience as far back as 2014.

I would like to see us become a training hub for careers that require some college, particularly for those with severe or coming shortages like healthcare, law enforcement, teaching/child care, construction, and many trades. We already have the building blocks to become a training hub for people wanting to enter these careers with Shasta College’s many associate’s degrees and certificate programs, a variety of local workforce training companies, and the increasing number of career technical education programs at our local high schools, like Shasta Union.

If we focus on becoming known as the training hub for careers that require some college, I believe we’ll be able to fill our own job openings and set up our young people for strong careers with solid compensation and enduring job security.

What do you think of Shasta County leaning further into becoming a training hub for careers that require some college and have significant shortages?