Taking Care of Connecticut’s Tomorrow


A highly educated workforce has traditionally been one of Connecticut’s greatest competitive assets: but it’s not necessarily a given in the future.
By 2025, according to projections, 70% of the workforce will need at least some post-secondary education or credentials if the state is to remain competitive.
Higher-Ed-Report_cover1.jpgYet the state’s current demographics and projected rate of high school graduation and certificate and degree attainment say we’re going to fall far short of the goal. Never has the need been greater for higher education to fulfill its potential and promise.
The data clearly show what we’re up against: Connecticut’s academic achievement gap continues to be a major concern; our high school population and the number of people completing higher education are both declining; and for many, higher education is simply unaffordable.
Clearly if we don’t do things differently, we simply will not graduate enough people with the talent and skills to meet Connecticut employers’ needs.
Open the Pipeline
Connecticut’s public and private colleges and universities are gateways to better lives for thousands of residents.
But given the data, what can Connecticut higher education do to increase the talent pipeline necessary for the 21st century economy?
To answer that question, the General Assembly convened a blue-ribbon commission to size up the challenges facing higher education and develop a strategic plan.
Last month, the Planning Commission for Higher Education adopted its strategic master plan encompassing all of higher education in Connecticut, including UConn, Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (ConnSCU), and private colleges and universities.
Staying Tops for Talent
Judy Resnick, the commission’s chair and executive director of CBIA’s Education Foundation, says the strategic plan aims to keep Connecticut a top state for talent.
“Connecticut simply can’t be competitive without a highly educated, skilled workforce,” says Resnick.
“We have excellent higher education institutions in Connecticut, but now we have to act with urgency to marshal those resources in a way that will give ever more people the chance to learn, grow, and succeed.”
With consultants from the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems, the commission studied the problems, trends, and potential solutions. Their plan addresses accessibility, learning outcomes, finances and affordability, and governance and decision-making authority.
Major recommendations focus on:

  • Increasing the number of adults in higher education, and their levels of academic attainment
  • Strengthening regional higher education and business collaborations aimed at producing a more competitive workforce and vibrant economy
  • Making sure that higher education is affordable for all Connecticut residents

Each recommendation comes with specific targets and a base set of metrics to measure and monitor progress toward achieving the goals.
Proposals contained in HB 7007, a bill now being considered by the state legislature, are designed to make the strategic plan the state’s policy for higher education.
Daunting Numbers
The bottom line is that Connecticut would have to graduate 300,000 more students than it is currently to reach the 70% goal by 2025. And if nothing is done to change things, Connecticut actually will produce 23,000 fewer graduates a year.
So, the commission’s Strategic Master Plan for Higher Education in Connecticut is both a call to action and a roadmap to maximizing higher education in the state and opening up more opportunities for more people.
Connecticut’s economy can’t afford to fall behind the competition: for the sake of the future of the state and its people. If we follow the commission’s plan, that won’t happen.

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