One of the biggest challenges to Connecticut’s future is having enough skilled talent for job creators. According to projections, by 2025, Connecticut’s economy will require a workforce in which 70% will have some education beyond high school.
We have a long way to go: As of 2012, 47.5% of Connecticut’s population had an associate’s degree or higher.
The state’s Planning Commission for Higher Education recently finished the first phase of its work to develop a strategic plan for higher education in Connecticut–to get Connecticut on track to ensure employers have the talent pool they need.
Chaired by Rep. Roberta Willis (D-Lakeville) and former CBIA Education Foundation Executive Director Judy Resnick, the commission found that to reach the 70% goal, Connecticut will need an additional 300,000 graduates--above the current rate of production and even after taking into account people with degrees moving into Connecticut.
The commission pointed out that Connecticut has one of the most significant education attainment gaps in the country, and affordability is also a key issue–with Connecticut students’ average loan debt among the highest in the country.
Among other things, in its plan, the commission outlined:
- The impact of demographic, workforce and education trends in higher education
- Goals to increase the number of degrees and certificates completed and the number of individuals entering the workforce; and to address the achievement gap
- Changes to funding policies, practices and accountability
- Recommendations on institutions can expand their role in the state’s economic growth
HB 7007 would begin the implementation of the commission’s goals for improving higher education in Connecticut.
HB 6715 and HB 6919, also support the goals of the commission. The first supports the state’s adoption of national reciprocity standards for online learning so Connecticut students can take advantage of programs throughout the nation to gain the skills they need to be competitive in the workforce.
HB 6919 studies outcome-based financing, which is important because financial policy was identified as contributing to the barrier of affordability.