Pennsylvania is at or near the national average on several education and economic metrics. By leveraging postsecondary investments more effectively and by aligning higher education capacity with workforce needs, the state’s economy could grow faster than currently projected. Conversely, relative lack of action or investment could contribute to Pennsylvania falling below the national average in educational and economic competitiveness.
The legislature has been most active in three policy areas: college/career preparation, need-based student financial aid, and transfer and articulation. State leaders should evaluate the impact of these policies on boosting postsecondary participation and completion rates. Lawmakers also should consider how to increase postsecondary participation and attainment of adults and minority students.
State leaders in Pennsylvania should examine how funding decisions could better align postsecondary programs and workforce goals to improve college attainment for all segments of the population, increase personal incomes and strengthen economic growth over time.
How does Pennsylvania rank compared to the national average?
Adults 25-64 with college degrees: 28th (37.8% vs. 38%)
High school graduates going directly to college: 24th (63.9% vs. 63.3%)
Percent of 25- to 49-year-olds enrolled in college: 49th (4.5% vs. 7.0%)
Undergraduate awards per 100 FTE undergraduates: 17th (20.7% vs. 19%)
STEM credentials awarded per 1,000 STEM employees: 15th (69.8% vs. 54.4)
Workers with college degrees earning low wages: 20th (23.4% vs. 22.9%)
Pennsylvania is at or near the national average in most metrics, including overall degree attainment, young adult participation and postsecondary productivity. Modest investments in postsecondary education could sustain completion gains made with young adults, while providing access to older adults and minorities. Leveraging state funds in this way might propel Pennsylvania into the upper echelon of states. However, lack of action could produce the opposite effect: a situation where state educational and economic prospects decline. To achieve economic growth, the state might leverage higher education productivity and high net migration to create job density in high-demand fields.
Boosting College Completion has produced a comprehensive 50-state legislative database related to college completion and workforce development. The database will grow as we continue to collect and analyze policies.
Highlights of Pennsylvania’s policies:
Establishing General Education Course Equivalencies – H.B. 185 (2005)
Legislative Budget Bill – H.B. 1067 (2008)
Pennsylvania Technical College Program – H.B. 842 (2007)
Check out the BCC database for a more complete summary of Pennsylvania’s policies. Click on the Menu arrow for additional options, such as printing the summary.
Pennsylvania is at or near the national average on several education and economic metrics. As such, the state is primed either for growth or stagnation. By leveraging postsecondary investments more effectively and by aligning higher education capacity with specific workforce needs, the state’s economy could grow faster than currently projected. Conversely, relative lack of action or investment could contribute to Pennsylvania falling below the national average in educational and economic competitiveness. To meet the demands for highly skilled workers with either a certificate or a degree, Pennsylvania will need to reach beyond traditional student populations and increase attainment among adults and minority students. As the state considers efforts to increase access among older adults and students of color, the legislature might evaluate:
Current policies for impact and effectiveness, making tough decisions on what to fund — special attention should be given to closing age and equity gaps in attainment.
Current and projected workforce demand, focusing on low-skill adults displaced by the recession — providing low-skill adults with pathways toward middle-skills work is critical to the state’s economic prosperity.
The effect of migration on postsecondary capacity and workforce demand — the importation of 36,000 residents into Pennsylvania every year might change the composition of the workforce, especially with 82% of those migrating not holding a college degree.