President & CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout Delivers Keynote at Economy League World Class Forum: Closing the College Completion Gap

In her keynote address today at the Economy League World Class Forum, President & CEO Dr. Karen A. Stout set the national context for the day’s discussions around Closing the College Completion Gap.

“I am a fierce advocate for America’s community colleges and the unique role we play in our communities,” she began. “Often the center of their communities, community colleges are uniquely positioned to bring about change, not just in college completion and workforce preparation, but also in helping their communities address stubborn issues related to poverty, racial injustice, and economic stagnation. We know that degrees and credentials change students and their families’ lives. As the institutions that prepare the majority of people of color, immigrants, and low-income students for careers and jobs paying family supporting wages, community colleges are built to partner and have the responsibility and the opportunity to work collaboratively with K-12 schools, four-year institutions, employers, and community-based organizations to address rising inequality and persistent unemployment in the communities they serve.”

In her address, Dr. Stout presented three things that must happen, in parallel, to close the completion gap:

  1. Individual colleges must commit to redesign their colleges to value access and success.
  2. Redefine completion to go beyond degrees, match the need of modern economy and reach citizens we are leaving behind.
  3. Set a collective educational attainment agenda and braid together an ecosystem of supports.

She shared insights, data, and studies from a number of sources including Lumina Foundation’s recently released and updated strategic plan, noting that since 2011, the U.S. economy has added 11.5 million net new jobs for workers with postsecondary education, but only 80,000 for those with a high school diploma or less. She discussed data from a new study released by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, sharing the news that for the first time ever, workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher now make up a larger share of the workforce than workers with a high school diploma or less. The study, America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots can be found here.

For more about the discussion, follow the Twitter feed at #TalentPHL.

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