The Contribution of Private Sector Colleges and Universities to IP-Intensive Industries in the United States

November 2013  |  Contributors: Nam D. Pham, Ph.D.

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Private sector institutions provide an outsized proportion of skilled, credentialed workers to intellectual property-intensive industries. These industries—coal and petroleum manufacturing, chemicals, computer and electronic products, transportation equipment, medical equipment, and software—invest more on research and development per employee than the national average among all U.S. industries. They fuel innovations that strengthen our economy and provide good jobs with high incomes.

The report presents data that documents the market demand of these growing industries for the practical education and training private sector schools provide. Among the workforce in IP-intensive industries with at least some postsecondary education, one-half have earned either a credential or an associate's degree. Private sector institutions have awarded more than one-third of these associate's degrees and certificates.

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Private sector colleges and universities account for 13 percent of total postsecondary enrollment in the United States. Yet the credentials these institutions award represent 23 percent of all the postsecondary awards that IP-intensive industries prefer when hiring for their high-skill jobs. Nearly 80 percent of the jobs that require these credentials are for technologists, technicians, and production workers. These individuals support the scientists, engineers, and managers who research, develop, and manufacture innovative products and services.

Graduates of private sector colleges and universities apply their practical skills and education to the research and development phases of innovative industries that are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Some graduates support research scientists and engineers to create intellectual property; others work in the development and production phases to produce innovative products and services. Supported by these technologists and technicians, American companies are the largest source of innovation in the world. These graduates strengthen the competitiveness of American companies globally.