A Comprehensive Policy & Practice Approach to Serving Adult Learners & Meeting Workforce Demands
Emily Campbell, René Cintrón, Adrienne Fontenot, Amber Blair, Tarie Roberson, and Quintin Taylor, Louisiana Community and Technical College System
Only six years ago, Louisiana ranked 50th in the nation for college degree attainment. Today, Louisiana ranks 26th. The state’s significant improvement was achieved in large part because of the innovative approaches the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS) is taking to better serve adult learners through both policy and practice transformation.
The first step in this transformation is the recognition that there are challenges in Louisiana. Twenty-three percent (23%) of the State’s working-age population have no high school diploma, leaving them without access to postsecondary education and federal financial aid. These challenges have resulted in an aggressive strategic plan and a paradigm shift in higher education – a true, comprehensive focus upon the adult learner without a high school diploma.
While every state has a significant population of adults without a high school diploma, states have historically sought to address their skills gap through a focus on K-12 education and a
traditional progression of high school equivalency to college instruction. However, while such efforts have realized various levels of small successes, they are incapable of matching the needs of the economy for three primary reasons:
- most states have an insufficient number of traditional high school graduates annually to fill workforce needs;
- the historically slow sequential progression of high school equivalency to college instruction results in a significant
rate of attrition due to the inability of this demographic to make the significant time commitment, and,
- the financial commitment required to tap into this demographic at an impactful level, without properly leveraging the Ability-to-Benefit provisions of the Federal Pell Grant Program, becomes largely cost prohibitive.
The solution in Louisiana is multilateral. We are re-envisioning the system of adult education, combining contextualized learning and workforce training that is aligned to high-wage, high-demand jobs in Louisiana. We are re-committing ourselves to an open access mission, putting initiatives in place to remove financial barriers for our adult student population, rethinking the route to a high school equivalency, and embarking upon a multi-year strategic and statewide marketing campaign. This requires support and buy-in from a multitude of stakeholders.
LCTCS has made great strides in serving the adult population of Louisiana- a population that heretofore had been mostly forgotten. In fact, in 2016 Lumina Foundation ranked Louisiana number one in the nation for adults with a high quality postsecondary certificate. But work remains. Moving forward, we do not plan to slow down. To continue to increase the number of adults with a postsecondary credential that leads to a high-wage, high-demand career we will need to: expand our nationally-recognized scholarship program, 5 for 6, to 13,000 recipients annually; create a first-of-its-kind skill training/high school equivalency preparation curriculum; and continue to surface, study, and remove barriers for adult students, tackling difficult obstacles such as childcare and transportation. To accomplish this, the LCTCS Foundation and individual college foundations will pursue contributions from existing and new partnerships. In addition, we will need to continue to collaborate with our legislature, Governor’s Office, business and industry, and four-year university partners.
- Calling Louisiana to boost state’s trained workforce (Greater Baton Rouge Business Report) Link
- With one year to go, here’s where LCTCS stands with its six-year ‘audacious’ goals (Lafayette Daily Advertiser) Link
- Edwards, LCTCS announce collaboration with Amazon (Greater Baton Rouge Business Report) Link
- New deal helps community college grads attend Louisiana College (Town Talk) Link
PATHWAY 2 TOMORROW
Pathway 2 Tomorrow: Local Visions for America’s Future (P2T) matches responsive and agile education policy solutions with the needs of states and local communities.
For questions please contact us