Research institutions are a key ingredient to innovation and long-term economic growth, and the United States has a long history of being a global leader.

Aligning jobs with workers who possess the skills to succeed is a challenge that calls for solutions from K-12 and postsecondary systems and employers. Dec. 10 during the CSG 2015 National Conference in Nashville, Tenn. The policy academy will look at ways to create career pathways and develop innovative postsecondary programs to help students prepare for success in the high-demand jobs industry is filling today

CSG Midwest
For the past 60 years, high school students across the country have been able to complete college-level coursework through the Advanced Placement (AP) Program. In addition to the academic benefits, students may earn college credit for scoring well on their AP exams, which are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. But the policies on awarding credits can vary from state to state, or even within the same postsecondary system.
This summer, Illinois lawmakers approved a measure that ensures the state’s high-performing AP students will get a head start on their college careers. HB 3428, signed into law in August, requires all public colleges and universities in the state to award course credit for AP exam scores of 3 or higher. (The College Board and the American Council on Education recommend that a score of 3 or higher be the standard for awarding college credit.)

As classes resume across the country this fall, the University of Iowa will join nearly 1,100 colleges and universities that have declared their campuses tobacco free. The new policy adds smokeless tobacco, snuff, water pipes and electronic cigarettes—or e-cigarettes—to their list of banned substances on campus, joining cigarette and cigar smoke under the school’s previous policy.

Comprised of eight campuses and over 80,000 students, the Texas State University System has devised an innovative strategy to make college more affordable for its students. Starting next fall, nontraditional students will be encouraged to take free massive open online courses (MOOCs) before stepping on campus and earn college credit for up to a year if they pass related exit exams. 

State policymakers hear frequently from employers that they cannot find skilled workers for open positions. Many of these positions are middle-skill jobs that require some form of postsecondary training, but not a bachelor’s degree. This article discusses state strategies to close skill gaps and meet employer skill needs.

The United States faces a pressing national security and competitiveness challenge rooted in a shortage of a diverse, highly skilled workforce, particularly in vital cross-disciplinary fields such as data science and analytics, cybersecurity, and information technology. To address this challenge, the Business-Higher Education Forum launched the National Higher Education and Workforce Initiative, employing a model of strategic business engagement with postsecondary education to meet the highest priority workforce needs. Through the initiative, the education forum plans, launches and assesses projects, partnerships and scaling strategies that are designed to enable business and higher education to move from transactional engagement in low-touch, piecemeal activities to strategic, long-term partnerships that align postsecondary education with workforce needs. Two of these projects—in Maryland and Ohio— offer models of such partnerships.

Credit for Prior Learning is gaining traction as one strategy for advancing postsecondary degree attainment. While much progress has been made in institutions across the U.S., challenges remain in the widespread acceptance and application of prior learning to provide transfer pathways. State and regional collaborations offer promising models.

The Council of State Governments released a report last week that outlines recommendations for state-level policies that help ensure students are prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce. The report, "A Framework for State Policymakers: Developing Pathways to Ensure a Skilled Workforce for State Prosperity," is the brainchild of CSG's 2014 national leaders who sought to help states prepare today's students for the jobs of tomorrow. Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, who served as CSG's 2014 national chair, led the State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, a multi-year effort to identify obstacles—and alternative pathways—to prosperity for many Americans.

On August 15, state policy legislators and education officials attended the CSG Policy Academy on Innovative Delivery Models in Postsecondary Education as part of the CSG East Annual meeting held in Wilmington, Delaware.