The Pennsylvania Board of Education’s Council of Higher Education established a statewide goal in 2018 for the commonwealth to have 60% of the population ages 25-64 hold a postsecondary degree or industry-recognized credential by 2025, with a particular focus on closing attainment gaps for historically underrepresented populations. That goal is based on what industry needs to stay and thrive in Pennsylvania, but it will simply not be achieved without intentional and collaborative efforts across multiple agencies, sectors, and partners.

Team Pennsylvania played a leadership role in this effort by securing a planning grant from the National Governors Association and Strada Education Network focused on the 1.4 million adults in Pennsylvania with some postsecondary education but no degree (near/partial completers). The project convened a leadership team that included the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, the Governor’s Policy Office, the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the Pennsylvania Workforce Development Board, and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. The leadership team aimed to identify a state-level strategy to reduce that number of near/partial completers by connecting them with relevant postsecondary educational opportunities aligned with existing workforce gaps.

In partnership with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE)’s #Prepared4PA initiative, Team Pennsylvania deepened the connection between the work already underway with the State System and funded three pilot programs for adult near/partial completers in agribusiness (with Shippensburg University), healthcare (with Millersville University), and cybersecurity (with Cheyney University). These pilot programs support adult learners to acquire credentials that provide a short, clear path to skills needed for reentry into the workforce.

In addition, Team Pennsylvania and several agencies in the commonwealth are in initial discussions regarding a statewide credential transparency initiative, in partnership with the national organization Credential Engine. The purpose of this initiative would be to create a state registry of available credentials; the registry would provide clear and consistent information about available education and training opportunities, which would increase people’s access to the workforce and help individuals identify career paths that are best for them.