Florida TaxWatch Releases Report on How Pandemic Impacted Florida Colleges, Universities

On Thursday, Florida TaxWatch (FTW) released “Beyond the Pandemic: Long-Term Changes and Challenges for Postsecondary Training in Florida,” the fourth installment in the taxpayer research institute’s COVID-19 Legacy Series.

The report introduces the distinctly new workforce that is emerging from the pandemic and explains how postsecondary training and education, a proven driver of economic mobility, is also evolving in order to be responsive and adaptable to inevitable, sudden change.

Florida TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic Calabro weighed in on the new report.

“While more research will be necessary to better understand how COVID-19 has impacted postsecondary training and education, it’s abundantly clear that Florida industries and institutions need to rethink the services they offer and expand opportunities for upskilling and reskilling – which could be particularly advantageous for sectors currently in high demand, like manufacturing, consumer services, and health care. A holistic approach to preparing young people and older adults alike for an ever-evolving economy and a workforce full of disruptions and displacement will be key, and Florida colleges will be at the forefront of that effort,” Calabro said.

According to the analysis, the pandemic resulted in an overall decrease in postsecondary attendance on both the national and state levels as health concerns abounded. Florida’s two-year public colleges faced especially sharp declines as students from predominantly low-income, first-generation backgrounds and workers seeking more advanced training failed to justify the costs and complexities of participating in remote learning while also dealing with employment difficulties.

Additionally, the report notes that this trend has several long-term ramifications for the state, as foregone learning reduces the likelihood of future educational attainment and lowers lifetime earning potential. Some studies , such as one from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, even estimate that delaying college just one year because of COVID-19 may result in potential loss of $90,000 in lifetime earnings.

Though more subtle, the analysis states that another implication will be an increased demand for alternative or supplemental methods to complete postsecondary training, proposing upskilling, or enhancing existing skill sets with additional skills, and reskilling, learning a completely new skill set for a new role, as expedient and economically beneficial solutions. In fact, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently found that upskilling may boost U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 3.7 percent by 2030.

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