Missouri has come up with a plan to help 150,000 adults earn a postsecondary credential by 2030. The Missouri Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development’s strategic framework is to have 60% of working-aged Missourians earn a credential and have 70% are employed by the deadline. Of the overall figure, the state is working to specifically help 105,000 rural adults; 30,000 to Black adults; and 15,000 to Hispanic ones.

Samantha Dickey, the department’s Interim Assistant Commissioner for Postsecondary Policy, said the framework will help to ensure that more adults have access to apprenticeships, certificates, and two- and four-year degrees.

“Data from the National Student Clearinghouse show that there are almost 700,000 Missourians with some college but no credential,” she told Missourinet. “So, what are some ways that we can work with our institutions, technology vendors to not only identify those 700,000 Missourians, but also provide outreach?”

The plan is designed to expand state and federal resources, change policies that create barriers for certain populations, and create education and workforce training programs for adults. Dickey said leveraging the Fast Track financial aid program and targeting Missouri’s 23 job centers will help to reach this goal, along with further involving inmates who leave prison.

“We feel like the (Fast Track) program has a lot of opportunity for growth, just because of the adult learners that we have here in Missouri that can benefit from the program,” Dickey said.

A current legislative bill would boost Fast Track’s income eligibility from the current $80,000 to $100,000 for married couples filing jointly and from the current $40,000 to $50,000 for all other tax filing statuses.

Missouri has more than 19,000 inmates who leave a state prison each year. In 2020, the federal government reauthorized Pell grants for imprisoned people and formerly incarcerated ones.

“We know that our economy is changing and it’s going to rely on our working age population to have these kinds of credentials,” she said. “When we were digging into the numbers to figure out, you know, what exactly it will take in order to meet those strategic goals, we realized we’re not going to reach those by focusing on the traditional student age population. We’re going to have to find ways to increase the number of adults that are entering into postsecondary education and completing.”

Where did the state come up with this figure?

“As we were looking at the future economy of Missouri, by 2030, what percentage of our jobs are going to require education beyond high school. When we were developing the report, that number was 60%. I think Georgetown recently released a report saying that number is closer to 66%,” said Dickey.

Missouri’s current educational attainment rate is 50.5%.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do in order to meet that 60% educational attainment goal,” Dickey said.

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