A recent study indicates that the United States is falling behind in the global race to educate young adults and workers.

The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education released its fourth report in the biennial series, “Measuring Up 2006: The National Report Card on Higher Education,” in early September of this year. It measures the performance of state and higher education performance and for the first time compares that to international performance.

The study compares national and state higher education access and completion with that of other countries. Although the American baby boomers remain one of the most educated groups of their generation in the world, 25 to 34 year olds have fallen in rank to seventh.

“The report card finds that as the country’s well-educated baby boomer generation begins to retire, the diverse young population that will replace it does not appear prepared educationally to maintain the edge in the global economy,” the National Center said in a press release.

Ryan McRae, a mechanical engineering sophomore, found the report troubling.

“It’d be good to have a certain level with education across the nation. It’d just be nice to have everyone at the same level,” McRae said.

Kinesiology junior Zoarel Fuentes also had concerns about the findings.

“(People from other countries) will take jobs we might be interested in. There’s nothing we can do about it,” Fuentes said.

The U.S. also fell in ranking in college access and is in the bottom half for college completion.

College affordability has declined for most Americans and California received a C- on its report card. However, California’s state support of need-based financial aid has almost doubled; it is one of only three states to see an increase in this area.

California is also leading the country in the percentage of working-age adults enrolled part-time in college-level education or training.

On the other hand, at 81 percent, California ranks below the national average in the percentage of adults who hold a high school degree or its equivalent. In addition, California ranks lower than even Hungary and Mexico in the number of certificates and degrees produced relative to the number of students enrolled.

“California’s underperformance in educating its young population could limit the state’s access to a competitive workforce and weaken its economy over time,” according to a National Center press release.

“The knowledge-based global economy has stimulated an intense international competition for college-educated and trained workers. Other nations have approached the need for higher rates of college participation and completion with a real sense of urgency we haven’t yet seen in the U.S. As baby boom generation, the best educated Americans in history, approach retirement age, our country could experience a drop-off in college trained workers just as the rest of the world is gearing up to surpass us in higher education,” said Patrick Callan, president of the National Center, in a press release.

The National Center, based in San Jose, Calif., is independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan.

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