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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Eye On Boise

UI head: Higher ed key to solving Idaho’s ‘workforce imbalance’

“Idaho has a workforce imbalance,” University of Idaho interim President Don Burnett told lawmakers this morning, “an oversupply of workers with high school educations or less, and an undersupply of workers with post-secondary educations.” The oversupply attracts companies that offer minimum-wage jobs, he said. The undersupply discourages employers who offer higher-paying jobs, “because they’re concerned about the availability of talent. They will not invest in Idaho unless there is also a talent pool of job performers. Post-secondary education is the key.”

He said, “My parents, who grew up in Wallace, came to the University of Idaho during the Great Depression. They were the first in their family to attend a university. For them, a college education was the gateway to opportunity. Today I have the honor to stand before you as an Idaho native, as the interim president of the university they attended.”

Today, he said, “Nearly 35 percent of our freshman class come from first-generation families, just as my parents did, thereby strengthening the American dream of upward mobility in a society that is and should be defined by opportunity, not by status.”

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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