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Two years ago, a class of college students at Portland State University in Oregon came up with an alternative way of paying for college — an idea they called “Pay it Forward.” It has quickly attracted nationwide attention, including in some of the Midwest’s state legislatures.

A 2011 study by Deloitte for the Manufacturing Institute found that American manufacturing companies could not fill as many as 600,000 positions—or 5 percent of manufacturing jobs—due to a lack of qualified candidates, and 56 percent of manufacturers anticipate that shortage will increase in the next three to five years. Technological advancements, particularly in the manufacturing area, mean that workers need more specialized skills to both get and keep jobs. States are stepping forward to help solve these issues, creating or expanding programs aimed at helping the private sector get the skilled labor force they need to be competitive.

With help from a $25 million U.S. Department of Labor grant the Montana University System will overhaul the state's community colleges and increase the speed at which skilled workers enter the workforce.  The goal of the grant is to fill job shortages in a number of emerging manufacturing fields and change how students earn a training certificate.  

As states and localities compete for industry investment and jobs in an uncertain global economy, they need greater access to experts to provide guidance on the expected benefits and costs of economic development projects to make sound decisions. Presented by CSG's State Pathways to Prosperity initiative, this webinar focused on a variety of advanced analytical tools to help academic executives, industry scientists and policymakers make better evidence-based decisions on key research strategies.

On Monday, the Tennessee Senate expressed their approval for the Veterans Education Transition Support Act, or Tennessee VETS ACT, by a 30-0 vote.  If the House also approves military veterans could attend state public colleges and universities at the in-state tuition rate.

The path to public service was an easy—and logical—one for Alyson Richards to follow.
“I always have felt the need to do something that affects a large amount of people positively, so...
As businesses try to find sites to locate or expand services, they also often search for experts or researchers with which to establish a consulting relationship.  
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During the first half of 2013, state legislators crafted and passed budgets under much improved fiscal conditions. Later in the year, college students and their parents got a bit of relief of their own: The average cost of tuition and fees at the nation’s public four-year schools had risen by the lowest rate (2.9 percent) in more than 30 years, according to the College Board’s “Trends in College Pricing 2013.” It is a pattern seen time and again: Increases in state higher-education spending (the result, in many cases, of improved fiscal conditions) lead to smaller, or even no, hikes in tuition.

It is clear we need American students to be more than warehouses of knowledge and information as the expectation has been in the past.  As a nation we must bring our educational system up-to date so students also can apply knowledge and solve complex problems. This begins with high-quality early learning, continues through K-12 then continues until college completion and careers.  Students must be able to work not only independently, but also with each other; they also need to be able to communicate ideas effectively. In short, to be successful in today’s world, every student must graduate from high school college- and career-ready.  In order to ensure student success from early education through college completion and careers policymakers must address these 5 issues as legislatures begin this year.

CSG Director of Education Policy Pam Goins outlines the top five issues in education policy for 2014, including high quality early childhood education and funding, college- and career-readiness, K-12 assessment and accountability systems, the growing use of technology and digital learning, and degree attainment and college completion. 

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