CSG Midwest
Two years ago, Gov. Terry Branstad announced that he wants 70 percent of Iowa’s workforce to have education or training beyond high school by 2025. Since then, he and state legislators have taken a series of steps to meet that goal.

State education leaders strive to help students enter the workforce prepared to succeed—to be career ready. The term career readiness is used in education systems at the national, state and local levels to describe the skills, attributes and preparedness students need to enter the workforce.

How can state leaders build the public’s confidence in government if the citizenry doesn’t understand how state government works? Although there has traditionally been a reasonable amount taught in schools about the federal level—checks and balances; how a bill becomes a law; and so on—students learn little about the policies, politics and management of states and localities. Fortunately, there’s a growing civics education movement, at both K-12 and university levels, to expand students' understanding about the entities that most closely touch their lives. This FREE CSG eCademy webcast explores the challenges and benefits of civics education both inside and outside the classroom.

States and businesses continue to recover from the Great Recession, and they are doing so in an environment shaped by two historic shifts related to economic and workforce development. The first is the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States and the second is new technological requirements of these jobs. While job opportunities continue to grow, today’s factories require greater levels of technical knowledge from employees. But with these new jobs come new challenges in the form of preparing a workforce equipped with the skills and competencies required for a rapidly evolving workplace—filling the critical skills gap among today’s workers as well as students preparing to enter the future workforce.

The U.S. Department of Education recently released its first annual update of the redesigned College Scorecard to ensure that students and families have up-to-date, comprehensive, and reliable information available on colleges, all in an easy-to-understand format. The site allows visitors to sort and filter their search results to easily compare schools and consider the typical costs, average student loan amount, students’ ability to repay their loans, and their future earnings. State education and workforce leaders can use this website to compare higher education opportunities in their states to those in the surrounding region and across the country.

CSG Midwest

Starting this fall in Minnesota, college students will be required to complete training on preventing and reducing the prevalence of sexual assault. The mandate is part of a comprehensive law on sexual-assault prevention (SF 5) passed by legislators last year. In addition to requiring students to complete training within 10 business days of their first semester, the law expands the rights of victims, creates a new option to report cases online, and ensures that each school has a walk-in location staffed with trained advocates. <--break->

Two weeks ago, Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas unveiled a new performance-based funding model for higher education. The proposal will go before the Legislature in 2017. Most states have some element of performance incorporated in to funding formulas. If the proposal is passed, Arkansas would become the fifth state to have a funding formula based exclusively on outcomes. Universities and community colleges would receive their funding not based on enrollment, but rather on measures of their productivity, such as degree completion.

America’s public state universities were established primarily to serve the residents of their respective states, but recent findings show that state institutions are increasingly appealing to out-of-state students. Opponents of this practice have concerns that certain in-state applicants are being neglected and left behind. An analysis of 100 state universities, including the flagship institution of each state and one additional prominent public university, shows that from 2004 to 2014, 74 saw declines in in-state freshmen as a share of total enrollment.

As state leaders construct public policy to support increased educational attainment and workforce development, they need be mindful of the assumptions about college students and their attendance patterns embedded in most state financial aid programs. Reforming state aid is one necessary step to supporting student success.

Critical to state education and economic goals, adult learners will represent a majority of college students in the near future, yet they are largely an untapped resource. States and higher education institutions must adequately address their unique needs, concerns and expectations with comprehensive, proactive and targeted strategies that reflect this new reality.

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