Looking further than educational attainment
When viewing regional profiles, it is typical to see statistics for educational attainment – the highest level of education obtained by a person currently living in an area – as the predominant metric for talent. This is commonly depicted as the percent of the population with a college degree (bachelor’s degree or higher). Talent is key to a region’s economic wellbeing and development but unfortunately, it is often said that talented youth is among the largest exports in many areas of rural Virginia. This trend is not unique to Virginia, but is omnipresent across all rural areas in the U.S.
However, talent can also be measured by an area’s capacity to build its workforce through degree and certificate completions. Looking closely at the number and type of degree and certification completions in conjunction with the workforce needs of the area can help regions plan more carefully to ensure their residents have the right skills to meet the area’s workforce needs rather than relying on outside talent (this is particularly important as migration is declining).
Figure1: Educational Attainment in Virginia
Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2017 American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates