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Closing gaps, increasing college grads, to meet economic, workforce needs


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  • Lisa Irish/Arizona Education News Service

UnemploymentSalaryHP

A larger percentage of Arizonans with college degrees will help Arizona grow economically by attracting businesses to the state and will help degree holders earn more over their lifetimes, according to College Success Arizona’s policy brief “Advancing the Economy through Attainment: What Arizona Can Learn from States with Higher Education Attainment Goals” released in August 2015.

The average family income for bachelor’s degree holders is nearly twice that of high school diploma holders, and people with an associate’s degree earn 20 percent more a year that those with a high school diploma, according to College Success Arizona’s policy brief.

Closing gaps, increasing college grads, to meet economic, workforce needs UnemploymentAndWeeklyEarningsChart1000

Chart from College Success Arizona’s policy briefing “Advancing the Economy through Attainment: What Arizona Can Learn from States with Higher Education Attainment Goals” released in August 2015

Closing the college degree attainment gap between Latinos and Whites in Arizona is key, because by 2029 Arizona’s population will be majority minority.

Currently, 11 percent of Latinos have a bachelor’s degree compared to 33 percent of Whites, according to the College Success Arizona policy brief.

Closing gaps, increasing college grads, to meet economic, workforce needs AttainmentRaceEthnicityChart1000

Chart from College Success Arizona’s policy briefing “Advancing the Economy through Attainment: What Arizona Can Learn from States with Higher Education Attainment Goals” released in August 2015

Policymakers in 31 states have set statewide goals for postsecondary attainment, according to Lumina Foundation’s 2015 annual report “A Stronger Nation.”

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Arizona policymakers have not set a formal goal yet, but the Arizona Board of Regents, which governs the state’s three public universities, has set a system goal to increase the number of Arizona adults who hold bachelor’s degrees to 30 percent by 2020.

A statewide formal goal would also include associate’s degrees and postsecondary credentials like certificates.

Closing gaps, increasing college grads, to meet economic, workforce needs PathwaysToCompletionChart925

Chart from College Success Arizona’s policy briefing “Advancing the Economy through Attainment: What Arizona Can Learn from States with Higher Education Attainment Goals” released in August 2015

The policy brief also encourages Arizona policymakers to align state economic priorities and workforce needs with those focused on higher education attainment, set a state supported postsecondary attainment goal, consider policies that increase access to higher education and address attainment gaps between the majority population and opportunity groups.

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