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5 Ways to Transform Education and Improve Employment Opportunities

by NSC Blog | Feb 22, 2021 | Research Reports, Research Services |

Anne M. Kress, President of Northern Virginia Community College and Senior Vice Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, recently shared some compelling insights based on recent National Student Clearinghouse Research Center data, in a recent Virginia Business article.

While many optimistic projections predict that the U.S. economy will rapidly rebound once COVID-19 is fully contained, there might not be enough qualified people to fill some high-demand positions.

According to the Research Center’s Fall 2020 Current Term Enrollment Estimates Report, overall postsecondary enrollment fell significantly by 2.5% compared to 2019. Undergraduate enrollment was the primary factor in this decrease, which decreased by 3.6%, or 560,200 students, compared to 2019.

Usually, college enrollment increases during a recession, but in direct contradiction, 2020 saw a sharp decrease in enrollment of postsecondary education. Even more concerning is that this decrease is disproportionately affecting underrepresented minority student and low-income students.

Based on the Research Center’s enrollment data, and household survey data from the U.S. Census Bureau, some important statistics are:

  • Older adult enrollment has decreased by 30%;
  • Undergraduate enrollment has decreased by 22% compared to 2019;
  • 48% of people from low-income households canceled their education plans for 2020; and
  • Black and indigenous men’s enrollment in community colleges fell by 20%.

President Kress recommends five methods for supporting students, the job market, and the economy:

  1. Provide people with the in-demand skills they need to get a job and advance their careers.
  2. Ensure that learning is accessible anywhere and at any time.
  3. Remove financial hurdles to college enrollment and completion.
  4. Help people earn while they learn.
  5. Help students navigate the first year of college.

President Kress states that if policymakers fail to act, the growing mismatch between the skills that workers have and the skills that employers need could ultimately curtail Virginia’s economic growth for years to come.

Click here to discover how the Clearinghouse helps education go further with solutions that serve the K-20 to Workforce Continuum.

“…if policymakers fail to act, the growing mismatch between the skills that workers have and the skills that employers need could ultimately curtail Virginia’s economic growth for years to come.”

Anne M. Kress
President of Northern Virginia Community College

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