Only 15% of locals have a college degree, Yakima Chamber says it hurts our economy

Only 15 percent of locals have a college degree, Yakima Chamber says it hurts our economy

YAKIMA, Wash.- More people are seeking a higher education within our state during the last few years, and Yakima is far from catching up.

EWU analysts put together a graph that shows one and four people in Yakima don't have high school diploma.

When it comes to higher education, only 15 percent of people have degrees, compared to the state's 35 percent in 2016.

With the low rate of degrees, many businesses in Yakima don't require people to have them. The Yakima Valley Chamber of Commerce says it does hurt our economy by not being able to attract businesses to the valley that require that level of education, but that is starting to change.

College of Education Dean at Heritage University Ed Rousculp says it's an issue that starts with what family education levels are.

"The 15 percent rate is due to several reasons. One is student's parents didn't attend college level degrees, and so they don't know what that's like and what it takes to get there," says Rousculp.

Rousculp says we have many areas in our community that are low poverty, leaving many to think they can't afford to earn a degree.

"If there are also living in poverty, and they don't feel they have the financial resources, then they assume that it's not a pathway for them," says Rousculp.

Chamber of Commerce employees say and we are seeing more of the community getting trade school certifications which they say Yakima needs.

Rousculp says colleges here in the last few years have started to offer programs and grants to increase the rate of graduate students, and say many of them at Heritage return back to the valley and boost our economy.

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