Earn Up, the local college access network serving the six-county region of Northeast Florida, was recently profiled in “Aligning Postsecondary Education and Workforce Strategies to Drive Attainment,” a new guidebook released by the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) to support community-based efforts for boosting postsecondary education and workforce alignment.

The guidebook, developed with support from Lumina Foundation, highlights a number of practices and tools that communities across the country have utilized to better prepare students for future jobs.  In addition to Earn Up, other community partnerships profiled in the guidebook include Springfield Project 2025 (Springfield, MO); the Big Goal Collaborative (Northeast Indiana); SA2020 (San Antonio, TX) and Degrees Matter! (Greensboro, NC).

One of the strategies detailed in the guidebook are Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs), which help students translate their existing skills, knowledge and past experiences into college credit.  Earn Up, which serves a region that is home to five military bases, has been using PLAs as a strategy to increase degree completion among its active duty, reserve and civilian men and women.  Postsecondary institutions serving the region, including Jacksonville University and Florida State College at Jacksonville, meet on a regular basis to ensure their programs are tailored to support the needs of the military population through the use of PLAs and other supports.

Postsecondary attainment has become a key issue for cities and workforce development advocates in their work attracting employers who bring high paying jobs.  The contents of the guidebook not only detail best practices, but highlight the value that many of the community partners have experienced as a result of working together to achieve a common goal.

“Earn Up has become a selling point to potential employers,” said Patrick Murphy, Manager of Earn Up.  “It shows how our community is working together across sectors to solve the problem.”

Below are some other examples of ways community partnerships are preparing students for jobs, including:

  • How a career pathways program in Springfield, MO helps high school juniors and seniors earn college credit and internship experience in high-demand health professions,
  • How an innovative financial aid program in Northeast Indiana helps to prevent brain drain in the community,
  • How community leaders in San Antonio, TX use real-time data on educational attainment and the labor market to inform strategies for aligning postsecondary and workforce initiatives, and
  • How an intrusive advising model is being utilized in Greensboro, NC to increase attainment.

To learn more about what Earn Up and other communities are doing to align postsecondary education with workforce strategies, download the Tactical Guidebook.


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