Gov. Gina Raimondo has announced a plan to increase the number of college-educated Rhode Islanders.
Raimondo, who announced the state-wide initiative Thursday, hopes to increase the number of Rhode Island residents who have a postsecondary degree or credential from 47 percent to 70 percent by 2025.
“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,” Raimondo said. “In the coming years, seven out of 10 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.”
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.
Ambitious, but realistic
Postsecondary Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier said that reaching the 70-percent goal is ambitious but realistic. She said she isn’t sure how much the plan will cost but she says it includes partnerships.
“It will take the kinds of targeted strategies and partnerships laid out in our plan,” she said. “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.”
Dann-Messier 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 Thursday 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:
- Create pathways to postsecondary education attainment for adults
- Strengthen investments in postsecondary retention and completion
- Expand postsecondary access and preparation in the K-12 pipeline
- Establish collective ownership of the postsecondary attainment goal
The plan explains that meeting the state’s attainment goal will require reaching more adult students. To get to 70 percent will require 390,000 Rhode Islanders with postsecondary credentials. If the state continues on its current trajectory, it will get to only 300,000 by 2025. Two-thirds of the needed 90,000 additional credential holders are projected to be adult students.