~The statewide network will support local efforts to increase Florida’s degree attainment rate to 60% by the year 2025~
Taskforce members, representing multiple organizations including the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations,Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Helios Education Foundation, Florida Board of Governors, Florida Department of Education, Florida College System, National College Access Network and the University of South Florida met this week in Tampa to develop a draft strategic plan outlining the network goals and strategies for supporting state and local partner efforts.
Florida’s economy will soon demand more college graduates. According to a recent analysis of occupation data and workforce trends by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, 59-percent of all jobs in Florida will require postsecondary education by the year 2018. Between now and 2018, Florida will need to fill about 2.8 million vacancies resulting from job creation, worker retirements, and other factors. Of these jobs vacancies, more than 1.6 million will require postsecondary credentials.
Today, only 37-percent of the Florida’s 9.8 million working-age adults (25-64 years old) hold at least a two-year degree, according to 2010 Census data. This compares to a national average of 38-percent. If Florida continues to increase degree attainment at the rate it did over the last decade (2000-2010), the state will have a college degree attainment rate of 43-percent in 2025—far short of the 60-percent state goal.
This degree attainment gap underscores the urgent need to raise awareness, build consensus across sectors, and mobilize communities to accelerate degree production in Florida. Having an infrastructure in place that maximizes resources, reduces the duplication of services, and builds broad-based consensus around Florida’s programmatic and policy direction in higher education is essential to helping Florida meet the challenge. Creating and strengthening such an infrastructure will require a collaborative effort of individuals and organizations determined to serve students to improve college and career readiness, access, and completion rates.
In October of 2011, the Helios Education Foundation awarded the University of South Florida a planning grant to support the development of Florida’s first collaborating network of national, state, and local entities committed to increasing Florida’s degree attainment rate. The project also receives financial support from the Florida Department of Education, Lumina Foundation for Education, and the University of South Florida. Through an 18-month planning process, the new effort builds upon the previous network development efforts of ENLACE Florida and supports its transition to become the official Florida College Access Network.