Education Matters: NC sets goal for 2M to get postsecondary degree by 2030
North Carolina has set a goal for 2 million students to have a high-quality postsecondary credential or degree by 2030. JB Buxton (President, Durham Technical Community College), Cecilia Holden (President and CEO, MyFutureNC) and Dr. Jeff McDaris (Superintendent, Transylvania Public Schools) talk about what it will take for the state to reach this goal.
mhm mm. Welcome to Education Matters, presented by the public school forum of north Carolina. I'm your host, Maryanne Wolf through the work of my future and see the state of north Carolina has set an ambitious goal for two million north Carolinians to have a high quality postsecondary credential or degree by 2030. Today we will hear more about what opportunities exist in our communities and schools and what we need to do is a state to move closer to achieving this goal. I'd like to welcome to the show, JB Buxton, the president of Durham Technical Community College and Cecilia Holden, President and Ceo of my future. And c thank you both so much for being here. Thank you Marianne Cecilia. I'd love to start with you. Our state has put forth a bold goal for two million north Carolinians to have high quality certifications or post secondary degrees by 2030. Will you share more about what this means and why it's so important for our state. North Carolina has a skills gap crisis that my future and see is trying to solve. We're working with strategic partners across the state, um thrilled to have JB on here with us. Obviously the community colleges are a core center of our goal as well as our districts, the workforce. We are the only organization in the state that's focused on early education all the way through to the workforce through the work of a commission based on data and research. It was determined that in order for us to meet the workforce demands that north Carolina has both now and moving into the future, We were going to need this two million by 2030. That's to have two million North Carolinians between the ages of 25 and 44. That would have a high quality credential or post secondary degree by the year 2030. When you look at it from the business lens, first workforce talent is the number one differentiator when businesses are trying to decide whether going to locate. So for existing businesses, we've got to have the workforce talent, but also for those looking at coming into the state, that's an economic development driver. Um in terms of the individuals in our existing communities coming out of the pandemic educational attainment is the short term recovery strategy. It's the long term resiliency plan for the state's economy. Data shows that individuals with credentials or college degrees can earn as much as 2-3 times as much as somebody with a high school degree or less equally as important in that in terms of the state's resiliency plan, individuals with a high school degree or less were 3.5 times more likely to be unemployed during this down economy. So education is the gateway to economic prosperity for our citizens. It's also the path for upper mobility, so that meeting the goal is critical to everybody's ability to maximize their full potential and also to have, you know, just an opportunity for everybody to prosper. Well, thank you so much and J. B. I know that you took on your role as president of Durham Tech last summer, but you bring significant experience, as does cecilia from K 12. So I'd love to hear more about why community colleges are so important to north Carolina overall and especially in regard to the goal that cecilia just discussed. You know, I think if you grew up in north Carolina, you're aware that the community college system is a place, whether you're a high school student looking to get a jump start on your college education and make it more affordable. You can attend class whether you're coming out of high school and that becomes your first post secondary opportunity, whether it's the place that's going to connect you before year, or if you have a four year degree and you come and get back to get a different credentials. Or even if you're later in life and looking to re skill and make a transition the economy, it's a comprehensive system. If you didn't grow up in north Carolina, you often think of a community college as a junior college or transfer institution. The workforce orientation of the community college system in north Carolina is particularly important, starting early in high school and then later as folks are looking to re skill. So the connection of the community college system, not just educational aspirations, but vocational aspirations and what employers need in a shifting economy. And I think the thing that's incredibly important about that at this moment, when we talk about a shifting economic landscape in just shifting not just terms of covid but automation. And ai the community college system is especially adept and being nimble and transitioning the program offerings and degrees and credentials it provides to match what the labor market demand looks like in ST cecilia, you mentioned that my future and see goal includes more than just college degrees. I wonder if you would share more about what career pathways would count towards the goal for students, especially those who we know are trying to decide what to do. Post high school. We are focused on having the right credentials or degrees. And so when you hear our goal, um the estimates are out there that we would basically have around 7.5%. That's based on lumina data, that would actually be non degree credentials. High quality credentials, you've got a lot of your trades are requiring some level of credential. And so if we can focus on those are community colleges are very well equipped to provide that as well as other training providers in terms of the types of career pathways. Uh, many of these can begin in high school and so some barriers to success are often the affordability and how can we drive awareness? Well, you know, our counselors are critical to the success of our students both in high school and then also transitioning over to any education after high school. Lots of pathways exist. It might be you getting a two year degree through your cooperative innovative high schools, also known as early um colleges. It might also be a credential that you get through your career and technical education programs. If you can position these students to earn even college credits in high school, it positions them to have a more affordable opportunity moving forward. So counselors can work with the students, raise awareness not just with them, but also with the parents, because there's value there in terms of what we can do to also raise awareness to meet the affordability issue. Um, some things that we're doing, we've been focused on a fast a campaign. We're trying to increase the number of students who are completing the facts of why do we care? Research shows that for students who complete the FAFSA, they then see all of a sudden wait a minute. I've got thousands of dollars that can apply to college, so they see college as an affordable opportunity for them to So if we can raise awareness around that, I think that we can show them that college can be for them. It's not just for somebody who has, you know, tighter purse strings. Um, we have left, I think there's an estimated $107 million 2020 based on the number of students who didn't complete the FAFSA C college is affordable and therefore go on to some sort of post secondary JB. I know that community colleges often do partner with K through 12 districts and schools and universities to really support students. Could you share what that might look like in our communities? Sure. And let me be very specific at Durham Tech to give you some real life examples. It's a Durham Tech, like every community college in the state offers career in college, promised courses, dual enrollment. Some folks know so students can begin taking courses while they're in high school. We also have thanks to some county support college liaisons that work directly with all the high schools in German Orange County. So while Covid is not allowed in person embedding in our high schools prior to Covid and post covid, we have individuals who work directly in our high schools with our students and our counselors on post secondary opportunities at Durham Tech. We also have a middle college that works with 11th and 12th graders who are intentionally working towards a credential or associates degree or associates of find science. Lots of community colleges in the state run early colleges where students start in 9th grade. And I think what's important about what cecilia just talked about in terms of the early opportunities are really the opportunities to put together a career pathway very early that built on what the state already has a policy foundation with korean College promise to begin moving towards credentials and degrees that you can obtain while you are getting your high school education. And to me, as we're moving forward, it's not really a question of community college or four year, it's a question of you're gonna do it residential, e or you're gonna get your degree while you're in high school and then bleeding into some ongoing training that will probably be through a community college. It's just not really an option in this economy for folks not to get skilled beyond high school degree. Question is, where do you want to start in the workforce? And what credential do you think you need to move? And I'm always amazed at all of the opportunities and certainly awareness is a big part of that in this work of counselors and others are just critical. Um one of the things that you all have talked a lot about, or just the importance of partnerships and all of this work, and I would love to hear from both of you about how educators, students and business can work together to develop pathways and learning models on the K 12 through two and four year, we've got some really grooved pathways between the early colleges, whether it's at a four year or two year and the kind of articulation agreements, we already have many north Carolinians don't know that if you get your associates degree, you are automatically a junior at one of our, for your University, State University. So you have a clear pathway to, to a four year degree building on the two year with us, I think where the employers come in and we have lots of good examples of this as well, is where they're involved with high schools and community colleges and pre apprenticeships or with community college directly and apprenticeship programs work based learning internships you name it where students are getting not just an opportunity to experience but to begin to do real work add value for an employer while they're getting that credential degree that's important to an employer and then moving out into the workforce. So the role of employers to put some skin in the game with us when it's important to their bottom line into their talent is going to be important. And we don't need to go from a few shining examples to a system at scale where that kind of work well. We already see it in place in the triangle and beyond in the skilled trades a little bit here and there in I. T. And life science. That just needs to become part of the fabric of what we call education. When you look at the apprenticeship model, it is a paid experience. Um, it's a way for companies to tailor the training for future employees. And then also, the key for the employer is the retention rate. The loyalty that you get from these employees is significant. So it lowers the training cost for the turnover that you might otherwise see when, when we know that Leandro commission focused on post secondary attainment and our legislature has also supported the development of this goal. And given that support, what do we need to do as a state to make this goal more viable? Certainly all the work that my future and see is directly aligning with and we're, you know, we're trying to increase postsecondary attainment that is our mission. And so while the work is state led, it has to be locally driven to achieve the goal. It's going to be critical that we not only align our education workforce systems at the state level, but that the locals are also focused on this at the local level as well. We have a number of policy recommendations that were champion in this session with the General Assembly, and all of these will ultimately help to increase postsecondary attainment. Um so, you know, focus on our policy recommendations. That's one step forward. But when I think of Leandro, I think about the 97 Supreme Court decision which laid out before requirements for a sound basic education, not any specific program or initiative. And so ultimately to me, if you if you blow down to one metric, is do our high school graduates have preparation for essentially credit bearing courses in our community College University system? Are they prepared to succeed where they go next? And to me, we're at a moment where we've got to rethink the delivery system. So it is not. High school, community college university is about students in the credential or degree they're going to get. And that means we're going to have to, especially in the community colleges. Think about a much more integrated delivery system with our high schools where you can't really pull it apart and it looks like two systems as well. Thank you both so much for being here and for all you do every single day. Great to see you. Thank you mary. Thanks Cecilia. After the break, we will be joined by Dr Jeff McD Aris, the Superintendent of Transylvania County Schools. To continue this discussion. Education matters is brought to you each week, in part by town bank serving others enriching lives. Joining us. Now is Doctor Jeff McD heiress, the Superintendent of Transylvania County Schools. Thank you so much for being here today. It's great to be here. It's good to see everyone. It is. It's so nice to see you, Jeff as a superintendent in a rural school district. Why is the post secondary attainment goal so important for you and your community? North Carolina is, is considered a very rural state. I know, sometimes, perhaps when we're on the road, I think that, but I think we're second only to texas, uh, in terms of being a rural state. So our rural counties, like, like mine is imperative from an economic development standpoint for our state's economic future too be as broad based as we possibly can. And so when you, when you think about this post secondary attainment goals, um, it is a little bit not to sound campy, but it's like field of dreams. If you build it, they will come and we want our students to, to be as well prepared for wherever they were because overall is going to enhance our state. And we know that many of our students in our rural areas, they may not stay in our particular county, but we know that they're going to be in a working in a regional basis. And so we feel like we're building the, the social and working infrastructure if you will of our regions well. And I know this is a big priority for you and has been in your role as superintendent. And I wonder if you could share a little bit more about some of the opportunities that are available for the students in your district. Well, in my district, we try to look at several things. We obviously look at our local job market. We also look at the regional job market and that region actually can expand a little bit. We're about 2-2 hours and a half from charlotte area, which of course is growing, but we're very close to the Green Bowl Metro area just south of us. Um And so in the Nashville Metro area, just our neighbor next to our north is growing by leaps and bounds. So we try to look at the regional job market and we we obviously had a lot of success in our career technical education programs with our construction trades um and some of the related um uh work with that, such as in an architectural design etcetera. But we're also seeing as we work with our students, we have, we have strong programs and health occupations with a large retirement population here in the mountains. We know that there's a definite need for that. And even in our areas such as in graphic arts, um you know, many students are working in fields now that are related to promotion and advertising, working with different businesses. And certainly we have uh, we have pre engineering programs here as well. So we tried and we have business business technologies programs. So we try to be very wide ranging and the opportunities for students to, you know, get into those areas that they're very interested in, to learn about areas that we hope that they will become interested in and to really increase their foundations so that in our region they can, they can get good jobs. We need to remember that even though we're in a high travel and tourism in area, which certainly we have that in our marketing programs. We have to remember that manufacturing is not dead in western north Carolina and it's not um, dead in, in, in any of north Carolina, it's coming back and it's high end manufacturing. So we do try to have, we, we do have programs that encourage students go down that track and we also have a very close working relationship with our community college, which really enhances those opportunities. You offer a great deal. But I'm also curious to get your thoughts on what do you think sometimes might get in the way of a student understanding how to access these pathways to college, high quality certifications and career, and what can we do to make that more seamless for students and families? Well, I think one of the things that, that we encounter, um, surprisingly at first is that many students, um, they may not feel like they can afford to go to college and for whatever reason. And, you know, certainly that's why the FAFSA completion is very important uh, in our efforts with my future and see across our state, because we want students to go ahead and complete that. They they, uh, I want to say they might be surprised. They are surprised every single student has an opportunity. They can go to high quality two year college, whether it be our great partner with Blue Ridge Community College or another community college, or they can go into a four year or go into a transfer program. There are those opportunities for attainment and that fast is really a key step in that. So, one of the things that we can do is, you know, not only our schools, but also our parents and our business community is to encouraging students to fill out that fast. Uh, uh, there's sometimes some, some resistance for a variety of things, but a lot of times they just don't think that they can afford to go to college. And that's actually not very, that's not true at all. They can, there are opportunities about that are, that are everywhere. Um, that fast is a key point. That's that starting point that really identifies where that help can come as we get close to winding up here. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit more about what you need is a district for your schools and your leaders and your students in order to do more of this. We know this is a leandro priority and I'm just curious about what is the state we can do to support districts like you, quality costs, um, you pay for quality and we were very fortunate here were well supported, um, and we're very much appreciative of that, but we have to understand to two different points. Number one. Uh, it really is important for us to have those robust opportunities on the high school level, as well as a strong partnership with your local community college that is critical, You've got to have that and at the same time working with our business community, we work very closely with the Mountain Area workforce Development Board to identify those opportunities. And so, you know, the public itself, just understanding, you know, what are those opportunities to take the time to learn what they are uh without assumptions and understanding that, to be able to offer these types of opportunities, It requires resources and um, you know that that's just very important. I know sometimes it always seems to come back to that, but it's just a reality that that quality is very important and that's what we try to strive for Jeff. Thank you so much for what you do every day for your students, your teachers, your families, your community. I always learn when I when I get a chance to talk to you well I appreciate the time. You know, we're always welcome to come visit us in Transylvania County. We'd love to have you. I can't wait. And after the break. This week's final word, a various stoop superintendent once shared with me that you can't finish college if you don't start it. He was referring to how he had built opportunities for his high school students to earn a significant number of college credits while still in high school to set them on a pathway to earning a degree or high quality credential. While this approach certainly made college courses more affordable, he also shared the importance of students seeing themselves as college students capable of completing the course, work successfully. North Carolina is working to ensure that more of our students and residents have a high quality postsecondary credential or degree. As postsecondary credentials and degrees are becoming increasingly important for our current and future labour market. The state of North Carolina through my future and see has set an ambitious goal for two million North Carolinians to have a high quality postsecondary credential or degree by 2030. While we are making progress, we still have much to do. As of 2018, 1.3 million north Carolina residents held a post secondary credential or degree. Making this goal a reality requires strategic investments and supports for district schools and students Here in North Carolina, only about one quarter of those who responded to a 2018 education and see survey believe that their educational opportunities were well aligned with jobs available in their communities and about the same proportion believe that their educational opportunities provided avenues for gaining needed work skills and available jobs. Today, we heard from a variety of state education leaders that are doing that important work across north Carolina. My future and see has been established to lead progress on this attainment goal. Cecilia Holdin my future and see Ceo and president shared the emphasis on apprenticeships in north Carolina's first and Fast to campaign, which seeks to have more students on their way to being able to attend college in an affordable way. Community colleges have long been drivers of individual and community opportunities and economic prosperity. JB Buxton, the president of Durham Tech, shared with us today. How the pathways from K through 12 districts to community colleges to four year universities can be more seamless for students. We need to increase awareness and integrated supports so that students and families know what opportunities are available and how to access them. Transylvania County Superintendent Dr Jeff McD heiress showed the multitude of opportunities available to students through the career and technical education programs in collaboration with Blue Ridge Community College. He emphasized the opportunities for credentials and meeting the regional job market needs as well as providing students with the chance to explore various careers through courses, internships and apprenticeships. All of our guests shared the importance of the collaboration among K through 12 schools, community colleges and university, business and industry, local and state governments and communities to make this goal a reality. They also referenced the need to expand worse work based learning models that help educators, Students and businesses work together from internships to co ops to on the job training programs to apprenticeships, Growing our understanding of what true apprenticeship opportunities look like, increasing completion of the fast to as a gateway to attending college and investing in counselors in K through 12 schools are all critical components to attaining this goal and ensuring that all students in our schools have the opportunity to reach their potential. North Carolina has the capacity in people, partners and resources to make the post secondary attainment goal a reality, Developing more seamless pathways for students and increasing awareness and access to them through our K through 12 schools will benefit our students and families across North Carolina as well as ensure that our state has the workforce and human capacity. We need to continue to have a thriving economy and communities as that superintendent understood many years ago, we must help our students explore the possibilities and have access to career in college pathways. Thank you for taking the time to think and learn about education. That's all for today. And we will see you next week. Mhm.