• Education & Talent Development

    POSTSECONDARY CREDENTIALS

     

    DESTINATION

    Greater Philadelphia is a national leader in postsecondary credential attainment.

     

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT?

 

Postsecondary credential attainment is crucial to regional economic success as well as an individual ticket to opportunity—and it has never been more important. By 2018, only one in three jobs will require no postsecondary education. College graduates earn nearly twice the median income of high school graduates and enjoy significantly better long-term employment prospects. And for individuals for whom a postsecondary degree is not the next step, some industry-valued credentials and certificates can yield economic returns on par with associate and even some bachelor’s degrees. At the regional level, studies looking at economic vitality find that postsecondary degree attainment is one of the most – if not the most – important predictors of a thriving economy.

HOW DO WE CURRENTLY FARE?

Early Learning
School Readiness
Pre-K Access
Early Literacy
K-12 Education
On-time Graduation
Disconnected Youth
College & Career Readiness
Postsecondary Credentials
Degrees & Certificates Awarded
Educational Attainment
Workforce Readiness
Poverty Rate
Labor Force Participation
Median Income
School Readiness
With New Jersey's adoption of an implementation plan in 2016, all three states in our region are on the path to using standardized kindergarten readiness assessments to improve early learning and help close achievement gaps.
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PROGRESS TOWARD IMPLEMENTING STANDARDIZED KINDERGARTEN READINESS ASSESSMENTS (2016)

WORLD CLASS STRATEGIES

 

IMPROVE POSTSECONDARY ACCESS AND COMPLETION RATES

Access to postsecondary education and training is crucial to labor market success, in particular for those who stand to gain the most: low-income and first-generation college students. However, these students are also at the greatest risk of “stopping out” at either community colleges or four-year institutions. Whether run by institutions of higher education or nonprofits, there is a clear need for effective programming and supports aimed at keeping the most at-risk students on track to graduation. And with in-state tuition at four-year public institutions in the region ranking among the most expensive in the US, finding ways to provide more affordable, high-value postsecondary options is another top priority.

 

Promising Pathways

 

INCREASING ENROLLMENT FOR FIRST-GENERATION AND LOW-INCOME STUDENTS

 

Greater Philadelphia has a number of organizations working to increase access to postsecondary education for first-generation and low-income students, as well as high school programs that allow for dual enrollment and provide exposure to postsecondary education opportunities including college and vocational training. Beginning in middle school, first-generation students and their parents need support in forming plans and aspirations along with information on how to prepare, apply, and pay for postsecondary education.

 

REPLICATING BEST PRACTICES AMONG REGIONAL INSTITUTIONS IN PERSISTENCE AND COMPLETION EFFORTS 

 

To help ensure that more students succeed, some colleges and nonprofit providers have implemented summer bridge programs, invested in tutoring and career service programs, and established peer-to-peer mentorship programs. In addition to academic supports, students – particularly first-generation and low-income students – need support in making the social and cultural transition to college and engaging in experiences associated with success, such as living on campus, extracurricular activities, use of support services, and interaction with faculty outside of class.

 

SCALING EFFORTS TO ASSIST ADULTS WITH SOME COLLEGE TO COMPLETE THEIR DEGREES

 

Efforts like Graduate! Philadelphia help people who have stopped out return to school to complete degrees by providing assistance in navigating the complicated processes of how to finish a degree, how to pay for it, and how to balance school with other life responsibilities. Expansion of employer tuition reimbursement policies can help provide the incentive and resources for completion.

 

CULTIVATING AND PROMOTING AFFORDABLE HIGHER EDUCATION OPTIONS

 

Coming up with adequate resources – both money and time – to start and complete a postsecondary degree is a major barrier for many students. To address this challenge, students need solid information starting in middle school about high-value postsecondary options and debt risks. With respect to making quality higher education more affordable, regional higher ed leaders should explore collaborative strategies to control costs across their institutions along with the expansion of lower-cost state university options in Greater Philadelphia.

 

INCREASE ACCESS TO AND COMPLETION OF INDUSTRY-VALUED CERTIFICATES AND CREDENTIALS

 

Completion of industry-valued certificate and credential programs can position individuals for workforce success while paving the way for additional skill acquisition and academic accomplishment. The shorter duration of these programs compared with associate or bachelor’s degrees can help learners earn more while they continue their education. For such investments to be effective, however, employers, industry associations, nonprofit training providers, and the public workforce system must work together to ensure credentials are recognized and understood across different employers—and can ultimately build on one another over time.

 

Promising Pathways

 

SUPPORTING EFFORTS TO IDENTIFY CREDENTIALS WITH LABOR MARKET VALUE

 

While educational institutions and community-based organizations offer a wide array of certificates and credentials, not all match with existing labor market needs. A concerted effort to identify those credentials that have broadly recognized value in the marketplace can help to more effectively focus investments, map promising career ladders, and deliver for employers, students, and workers.

 

DEVELOPING REGIONAL CAPACITY TO TRACK CREDENTIAL ATTAINMENT

Data on certificates and credentials are not kept uniformly or easily accessible across the educational and community institutions that award them. Being able to track progress on credential attainment across the region in addition to degree attainment will require investment in tracking capacity and shared standards.

ATTRACT AND RETAIN INDIVIDUALS WITH POSTSECONDARY DEGREES

 

Regions with high levels of postsecondary education don’t just retain residents who have degrees. They also attract people with degrees, whether recent college graduates, young professionals, or skilled immigrants. Highly educated and skilled talent can choose where to live, making quality of life and economic opportunity – both the perception and reality of these things – key to determining how well a region competes. Helping students find internships in his or her area of interest and efforts to get students exposed to and involved with local communities can make non-native students more likely to consider launching a career and putting down roots in the region.

 

Promising Pathways

 

SUPPORTING EFFORTS TO ATTRACT AND RETAIN STUDENTS WHO ATTEND COLLEGE IN THE REGION

 

The region should build on Campus Philly’s and area universities’ successful efforts in exposing students to the great quality of life, diversity of communities, and the economic opportunities in this region. Recent increases in the share of students from Philadelphia-area universities who stay in the region post-graduation indicate that the efforts of organizations working on this issue are bearing fruit.

 

BUILDING ON QUALITY OF LIFE INVESTMENTS AND MARKETING EFFORTS TO ATTRACHT AND RETAIN MOBILE TALENT

 

The broad range of investments that can make the region more appealing to skilled talent will help Greater Philadelphia compete with other regions for mobile knowledge workers that help drive economic growth.