Presents findings from a technical assistance initiative designed to provide aid to 13 states aiming to connect their state education and training systems; offers a road map for discovering and implementing state priorities to increase postsecondary education.

“[T]here is widespread consensus among experts and practitioners that a postsecondary education is the new minimum for succeeding in today’s economy….Projections indicate that the United States is not on track to meet the needs of the future economy. With 65 percent of all jobs projected to require a postsecondary education by the 2020s, failure to meet that need could translate into unfilled jobs and lost economic opportunity for millions of workers. A recent analysis of postsecondary educational attainment found that only 45.8 percent of working-age adults in the United States have achieved a certificate, associate degree, bachelor’s degree or advanced degree. Closing this gap will require millions of Americans—primarily adults older than 24 years of age—to acquire further postsecondary education. Furthermore, although the United States has made gains in educational attainment during the past 50 years, other developed countries have improved educational attainment more rapidly, leaving the United States at risk of falling even farther behind” (p.3).

“Building on leading research and drawing on the experiences of state leaders and policymakers, this road map describes a process states can follow to ensure that they are poised to meet the new minimum. This road map can help states accelerate the process of aligning their education and training systems, paving the way to meet the talent needs of their economy” (p.3).

Thirteen participating states “identified and convened teams representing senior agency leadership from the governor’s office, kindergarten through grade 12 education, postsecondary education, workforce development, economic development and other relevant partners. Each state’s team developed a common understanding of the issues, created and implemented an action plan and ultimately changed how state agencies work together to better meet the needs of workers and businesses….Using [a] policy framework…and a structured action plan for implementation, states made strong gains in connecting their education and workforce systems to the needs of their economies, leading to systemic change” (p.4).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

The authors present four “foundational elements” (p.4) to guide the creation of state pipeline systems that align workforce and education systems: 1. “COMMUNICATION. Articulate and communicate the state’s vision for an education and training pipeline that meets the needs of its economy. 2. PUBLIC–PRIVATE PARTNERSHIPS. Support and scale partnerships between industry and education to implement sector-specific strategies and career pathways. 3. POLICY AND RESOURCE ALIGNMENT. Align policy and the use of resources and incentives to support attainment of the new minimum. 4. DATA AND ACCOUNTABILITY. Integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress and measure success” (p.4) “Drawing on the lessons learned from the policy academy states and in collaboration with state experts, the [authors] developed a road map that describes a process states can follow to position themselves to better meet the new minimum of postsecondary education…. •PHASE 1: Planning. During this first phase, the state identifies the problem and establishes a vision and goals (short term and long term) to address the problem. Then, the state assembles a cross-functional team to prioritize strategies to achieve the vision. •PHASE 2: Prioritize Strategies for Each Talent Pipeline Element. During this phase, the state identifies and prioritizes key strategies and workable policy actions across the four elements of strong talent pipeline systems to engage multiple stakeholders and fulfill the state’s vision and goals. •PHASE 3: Implementation. During this phase, the state leadership team develops an action plan for implementing the identified strategic priorities. The plan defines outcomes for each strategy and action, identifies agencies or individuals accountable for each action, sets a timeline and includes a plan for monitoring and assessing progress toward outcomes aligned with the overall vision. This road map lays out a sequential process for states to follow. In reality, however, the work is more fluid, with activities in the three phases overlapping as states adapt policies and priorities to ongoing realities. The road map represents the common, critical components the policy academy states implemented to drive systems change that leads to stronger state talent pipeline systems” (p.5). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)