PROVIDENCE, RI -- Governor Raimondo today released a roadmap for to achieving the ambitious goal she set to have 70% postsecondary attainment in Rhode Island by the year 2025. Together with Chair of the Council on Postsecondary Education Bill Foulkes, Postsecondary Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier, Scott Jenkins of the Lumina Foundation, and students from Rhode Island's three public institutions of higher education, the Governor laid out why getting to 70% is critical to the state's economy and to Rhode Islanders' quality of life.
"We have an economic imperative to help more Rhode Islanders acquire the skills they need to fill the kinds of high-demand, high-wage jobs we want in our state," Governor Raimondo said. "In the coming years, seven out of ten jobs created in Rhode Island will require more than a high school diploma. The postsecondary attainment goal that I set was a rallying cry. We've made significant progress over the last year. This plan is our roadmap to keep going."
Today, 47% of Rhode Islanders have a postsecondary degree or credential -- up from 43% just two years ago. Rhode Islanders without a college degree are twice as likely to be unemployed. Residents with an associate degree, on average, earn roughly 20 percent more than Rhode Islanders with a high school diploma. Rhode Islanders with a four-year bachelor's degree earn nearly 40 percent more.
Postsecondary Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier said that reaching the 70% attainment goal is an ambitious, but realistic goal. "I'm incredibly optimistic about our trajectory. Getting to 70% is entirely doable, and it will take the kinds of targeted strategies and partnerships laid out in our plan. It will take a big focus on closing equity gaps. No single sector can close the attainment gap alone-it will require collective ownership, collaboration, and urgency."
The Commissioner said her office is launching a major stakeholder engagement effort to get additional input from students, community organizations, public and private higher education institutions, employers, and state partners. The plan released today was informed by stakeholder focus groups and interviews, as well as research and analysis by Education Strategy Group.
The plan lays out four key recommendations:
1. Create pathways to postsecondary education attainment for adults;
2. Strengthen investments in postsecondary retention and completion;
3. Expand postsecondary access and preparation in the K-12 pipeline; and
4. Establish collective ownership of the postsecondary attainment goal.
"We're proud of the significant investments and progress Rhode Island higher education has made in recent years, under the leadership of Governor Raimondo" said Bill Foulkes, Chair of the state's Council on Postsecondary Education. "We plan to support our institutions so that they can continue to innovate and reach more students."
Notably, the plan released today explains that meeting the state's 70% attainment goal will require reaching more adult students. To get to 70%, we will need 390,000 Rhode Islanders with postsecondary credentials. If we continue on our current trajectory, we'll get to only 300,000 by 2025. We must accelerate our progress and reach 90,000 additional Rhode Islanders -- two thirds of whom are projected to be adult students.
Strategy Director Scott Jenkins of Lumina Foundation, a national philanthropic and thought leader on workforce development and postsecondary attainment, said this trend is playing out around the country in states that have launched serious efforts increase postsecondary attainment. "In order to prepare the number of individuals required to fill high-demand, high-wage jobs, states must focus significant attention on helping adults complete degrees they never finished, start new postsecondary careers, and receive training and credentials of value in the labor market. Rhode Island's plan is heading in the right direction."