As educators and policy makers strive to keep the United States competitive in the global tally of adults with postsecondary degrees, the Committee for Economic Development, a think tank, is urging business leaders to join them. In a report issued today, the group calls on business leaders to become “active advocates at the state level for the broad-access institutions that are so vital to the nation’s economic future.” Community and technical colleges and online programs are particularly suited to fill the country’s higher-education-attainment gap, says the report, which was financed in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Business leaders should offer tuition-assistance programs, the report says, noting that 37 million workers nationwide have some college experience but no degree. And those leaders should lobby states, the report says, to set explicit goals for the awarding of degrees and certificates, allocate funds strategically, conduct policy audits, and hold annual education summits. “We need business leaders to become continuously involved, contributing their expertise,” the report says. “Without quantum increases in the educational productivity and effectiveness of the nation’s postsecondary institutions, particularly those with broad-access missions, there is little likelihood that America will have the quality and quantity of human capital to compete successfully in the global economy or assure its citizens access to acceptable and rising standards of living.”