HOPE Scholarships have been an obvious treasure for several generations of Georgia students.
Since 1993, more than 1.7 million have received tuition assistance worth more than $8 billion.
Often overlooked, however, is how the HOPE program has also been of significant benefit to the state’s businesses by supplying a steady stream of educated workers to the workplace.
But continued success filling vital jobs with highly qualified people remains a never-ending challenge. A recent study by the Metro Atlanta Chamber offered further evidence of a “job gap” of too few qualified workers to fill jobs in high demand by employers.
Key categories cited in the report were computer/information sciences and healthcare workers, especially registered nurses. In 2015 14,453 computer-related jobs were posted by Georgia employers, but only 1,864 Georgians earned bachelor’s degrees in related fields in the 2013-14 academic year. Similarly, 19,626 jobs were posted for healthcare positions requiring an associate degree, but only 5,018 such degrees were awarded in 2013-14.
Since 2013, Gov. Nathan Deal’s High Demand Career Initiative has provided HOPE grants to technical college students enrolled in courses leading to jobs in high-demand fields. Still, the jobs gap persists. Another effort has come from the Metro Chamber’s website –– yourtalentyourfuture.org –– which helps jobseekers make decisions about enrollment in colleges and technical certification programs.
Essential to all these efforts to close the gap is the preservation of the HOPE Scholarships, the largest and most effective program of its kind in the country. Without HOPE, thousands would be denied higher education and the chance for attractive careers. The good jobs are out there. HOPE enables today’s students to qualify for them.