Roundtable Discussion Highlights Postsecondary Education Innovations
New research brief from Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation Maine aims to address skills gap
On August 20th, business, education, community, and retired military leaders gathered at Thomas College to discuss innovations that can improve affordability and access to postsecondary education for Maine’s students. At the event, Mission: Readiness and ReadyNation released a new brief, “Expanding Postsecondary Opportunity Will Build the Skilled Workforce Maine Needs,” detailing the issue of the workforce “skills gap” that Maine is facing and ways that post-secondary education can help shrink that gap.
By 2020, 66 percent of the jobs in Maine will require some form of postsecondary education, but only 43 percent of working-age residents currently have such credentials. That gap means a less-productive, less-competitive Maine in which employers will struggle to find qualified workers.
Growing the number of Mainers who earn a credential of value to 60% of our population is key to our collective success.
ReadyNation member Kimberly Lindlof, President and CEO of the Mid Maine Chamber of Commerce
U.S. Senator Susan Collins joined the local leaders and Thomas College students at the roundtable discussion via video from her Washington, D.C. office.
The discussion and the new research brief highlighted an innovative Thomas College program, “Engage, Develop, Guide, Empower” (EDGE), focused on recruiting and retaining students who are the first in their families to attend college. The ten-day course prepares students for the transition to college and the pace of college courses and counts towards credit needed to graduate.
First-generation students will help Maine stay competitive in the global economy.
U.S. Senator Susan Collins
Thomas College President Laurie Lachance noted that EDGE students are more likely than their peers to stay in school, graduate, and enter the workforce after graduation. Preparing students for postsecondary education and successful career paths is essential to strengthening our state’s economy and remaining competitive.
Mission: Readiness member Major General (ret.) Bill Libby pointed out that, in 2016, more than 700,000 American veterans accessed the GI Bill for college, apprenticeship, and job training. General Libby also highlighted that the skills gap is not limited to the private sector, but also impacts military recruiting.
Right now, 68 percent of Mainers are ineligible to serve. One of the primary reasons for their ineligibility is poor academics.
Mission: Readiness member Major General (ret.) Bill Libby
Public policy can play a key role in ensuring student success and the strength of our economy and national security by providing affordable educational pathways to all students. Partnerships among businesses, the military, and postsecondary institutions are an important factor in building a strong workforce and preparing our state for the future.