States get funding to better align degrees with economy, K-12

State governors fund grants to help postsecondary collaboration, best practice creation, and alignment with public school curricula

governors-state-postsecondaryTo further governors’ efforts to align education and training systems to the needs of state economies, the National Governors Association (NGA) this week announced support for 14 states: Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

By increasing the number of citizens with a postsecondary degree or relevant workforce certificate, the NGA hopes more people will have access to the middle class and beyond, companies will have a better prepared workforce and states will benefit from a stronger economy.

“A postsecondary degree or relevant workforce certificate is the ‘new minimum’ for the future workforce to achieve to meet the demands of the emerging job market and access a middle-class life or beyond,” the NGA said in a statement. “Fifty years ago, nearly 80 percent of jobs required only a high school diploma or less, and most paid a good wage. Today that number has dropped to 35 percent for jobs available to high school graduates and dropouts, and more than two-thirds of those jobs pay less than $25,000 a year. The emerging economy will provide few high-paying jobs for workers with a high school education or less.”

(Next page: What the funds will target)

“In North Carolina, we have recognized the importance of collaboration between technical training, our public schools, our community colleges, our universities and our Department of Commerce because they all play a vital role in providing skilled labor to businesses across the state,” said North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory. “Preparing our workforce at the highest of levels not only strengthens our economy, but also puts states at a competitive advantage here at home and internationally. Workforce development is something all governors are focused on, and I look forward to working with other states to provide a high quality workforce throughout North Carolina and our nation,” he continued.

Selected states will receive grants and opportunities to learn from one another, as well as technical assistance from the NGA Center for Best Practices and outside experts. The opportunity also will help selected states make progress within the following areas:

  • Articulate and implement a strong vision connecting the education and training systems with the needs of the economy;
  • Integrate and use education and workforce data to inform policy, track progress and measure success;
  • Build industry and education partnerships; and
  • Modify the use of resources and incentives to support attainment of the integrated vision.

To learn more about NGA’s Education Division, please visit

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