What It Takes to Succeed in the 21st Century and How New Englanders Are Faring

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What It Takes to Succeed in the 21st Century and How New Englanders Are Faring A NELLIE MAE EDUCATION FOUNDATION REPORT PREPARED BY JOBS FOR THE FUTURE What It Takes to Succeed in the 21st Century and
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What It Takes to Succeed in the 21st Century and How New Englanders Are Faring A NELLIE MAE EDUCATION FOUNDATION REPORT PREPARED BY JOBS FOR THE FUTURE What It Takes to Succeed in the 21st Century and How New Englanders Are Faring BY JOBS FOR THE FUTURE Commissioned and Published by The Nellie Mae Education Foundation 2008 Table of Contents Executive Summary iv Part 1. The New England Terrain Demographic Trends Economic and Workforce Trends Education Trends Summary Part 2. What Knowledge and Skills Are Needed for Success in a Global Economy? st Century Knowledge and Skills Trends and Bottom Lines The Challenges Facing Schools, Postsecondary Institutions, and Employers and the Road Ahead Characterizing What Preparedness and Success Demand: An Integrated Framework Part 3. Preparing New England Residents for the Future: How Can the Odds for Success be Improved? A postsecondary credential is essential for all students, regardless of their background or aspirations. At the same time, academic skills are not the only skills that employers value and seek If disadvantaged youth and working adults are to access the instruction and supports they need to master 21st century skills and knowledge, existing institutions will need to be supported, challenged, augmented, and given clear incentives to improve outcomes A more varied and robust set of schools, experiences, programs, supports, and opportunities for learning inside and outside traditional school buildings and traditional time constraints is needed to overcome opportunity gaps facing less advantaged New England residents Conclusion Appendix 1. AACU Essential Learning Outcomes Framework Appendix 2. Partnership for 21st Century Skills Framework: Graphic Representation Endnotes References Acknowledgements This report was prepared by Jobs for the Future for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. Contributing writers and researchers were Cecilia Le, Richard Kazis, and Terry Grobe of Jobs for the Future and Rob Muller and Alix Beatty of Practical Strategy, LLC. It was edited by Jobs for the Future s Marc S. Miller. Jobs for the Future greatly appreciates the support and thoughtful feedback provided by the staff of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation; special thanks to Nicholas C. Donohue, Beth M. Miller, and Stephanie Cheney. This report is available at and Executive Summary Who are the New Englanders of the 21st century and how are they faring in a rapidly changing society and economy? What knowledge and skills can we confidently predict will be required for future success in work and civic life? This background discussion paper, commissioned by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, answers these complex questions through a data-rich assessment of the educational and economic prospects of New England residents particularly those traditionally underserved by our region s educational and economic institutions in light of rising demand for skills and knowledge across the region. The ultimate conclusion is clear: New England, as a region whose competitive advantage nationally and internationally depends upon the skills, knowledge, and entrepreneurial instincts of its residents, cannot afford complacency. The region s population growth is slow; new population and labor market growth are concentrated in immigrant and other groups whose educational achievement and attainment lag; educational and economic disparities are significant, by racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic status. Our educational and economic institutions have left a significant proportion of the region s population illprepared for advancement in education and the labor market. In the 21st century, poor preparation for learning and for career advancement is a serious disadvantage. The skills and knowledge required to be able to make sound career choices, pursue good jobs, and adapt to economic realities have been rising steadily. A high school diploma alone cannot guarantee a path to a decent standard of living and the lack of a high school credential makes economic hardship all but certain. Success in today s economy requires academic skills that signal college-readiness in reading, writing, and math at a minimum. In addition, though, quality employers increasingly look for a broad set of non-academic skills: intellectual skills such as critical thinking, problem-identification and problem-solving skills; practical work-related skills such as time management, the ability to work in teams, and the ability to adapt effectively to changing work situations. A consensus has formed that the most reliable way to learn and use these skills is by earning a postsecondary credential valued by other education institutions and by employers. Postsecondary education is the gateway to advancement and success. v WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN THE 21ST CENTURY In this environment of rising expectations from both colleges and employers, educational institutions are under great stress and face great challenges. They must accomplish for all their students what they once only had to do well for about one-third of them: graduate young people ready for college and career. To do this will require a very different commitment to motivating and supporting all students to succeed starting with enriched learning experiences early in their educational trajectories, creating options and programs to help those who fall behind get back on track, and making college-going culture a routine component of schooling for all youth. This will also require creative collaborations to stimulate deep innovation in how we organize and deliver educational opportunities, from early childhood through young adulthood and beyond. Collaborations need to bring together not only educational institutions but also non-school stakeholders in learning, including employers, civic leaders, community-based organizations and agencies, and government. Demographics, Educational Outcomes, and Employment Trends As in the country as a whole, New England s population base is becoming increasingly diverse. By 2020, minorities will comprise more than a quarter of the working-age population. Immigrant populations are on the rise, particularly in southern New England states. New England is also becoming an older region. The number of young people entering the workforce is projected to decline, and all states in the region except New Hampshire rank among the top 15 grayest in the nation. By some indicators of social welfare, New England states fare well compared to other regions. However, these relative strengths obscure serious challenges: child poverty rates hover between 12 and 18 percent across the region. Opportunity and economic advantage are unevenly distributed across states, communities, and population groups. As New England s residents become a more diverse group, the region continues its transformation into a highly skilled, knowledge-based economy. New England has always lived by its wits and the innovative and entrepreneurial skills of its residents. This is true today as well: two New England states place among the nation s top ten on the Progressive Policy Institute s New Economy Index, which measures capacity for innovation and growth in a knowledge and innovationbased economy. Over the next decade, the region will continue to generate demand for more workers with baccalaureate and advanced degrees; at the same time, the largest segment of the region s employment base, as in other regions, will still be comprised of jobs requiring some postsecondary training and education, even if not necessarily a Bachelor s degree. vi NELLIE MAE EDUCATION FOUNDATION In today s increasingly complex economy many New Englanders are prospering and benefiting, but many are slipping further behind. For less-skilled workers, it is becoming more difficult to find good, steady jobs. Men, particularly those with limited education, are leaving the workforce in troubling numbers. A recent Massachusetts study shows that teen employment there, which is a strong predictor of future workforce participation, has been falling and that black and Hispanic male teens are far less likely than their white counterparts to find summer employment. Education attainment and achievement indicators show that important segments of the population are not prepared for success in a knowledge-based economy. The region s urban minority and immigrant populations have unacceptably low rates of academic achievement beginning in the elementary and middle school years. They lag in high school completion and achievement, and they also trail their white peers in persistence to and through college. Low-income New Englanders, no matter where they live, are far less likely to complete high school, enter and complete college, and secure family-supporting jobs and careers than are their more affluent peers. These trends pose serious problems for the region s economic growth and vitality. New England s residents, employers, and economy cannot afford for these inequities and inefficiencies to persist or deepen. Changing Demand for Skills and Knowledge If more skills and knowledge are a prerequisite for educational, economic, and civic success, just which skills matter most? How important are postsecondary credentials to individual and regional productivity and prosperity? A considerable body of research suggests that the demand for skills and knowledge is rising steadily. The wage premium for a college credential over a high school diploma has risen from 34 to 56 percent in recent decades, even as the supply of college educated workers has tripled. Occupational trends also show a steady increase in the proportion of jobs within occupational categories that require at least some college education. The best indicator of the skills that employers want to see in terms of academic skills and also non-academic knowledge, skills, experience, and maturity is a postsecondary credential of some kind. A consensus has emerged that a two-year credential or its equivalent (such as a formal apprenticeship or one year of college credits plus an industry-recognized certificate) should be the minimum goal for all individuals in today s economy. A credential has a much greater vii WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN THE 21ST CENTURY economic value particularly in a technical field and particularly for lowerincome students than taking some college courses without obtaining the credential. Success in the 21st century workplace and society requires a higher level of academic achievement than in the past but not only that. Individuals who advance also demonstrate and make productive use of an array of important non-academic skills, many of which are difficult to measure and not easily taught in a formal classroom setting. But they are increasingly valued by quality employers. These include skills related to problem-solving, critical thinking, communication, working in teams, and technology-related competencies. Employer surveys also suggest that creativity and the capacity to innovate are increasingly valued. Implications for the Region s Educational and Economic Institutions New England will rise and fall, as it has in past eras, on the ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and quality of its residents human capital. But making sure that the stock of skills and knowledge needed for economic vitality and growth are cultivated broadly and that gaps in preparedness of different segments of the population are redressed will require significant creativity and commitment from New England s educational institutions and other stakeholders in the region s future. The region s educational institutions are not well-equipped to help all students graduate high school ready to succeed in college and to develop additional workrelated skills and knowledge valued in the labor market. Too many young people and working adults leave school academically underprepared for the new economy, particularly individuals from low-income and other traditionally underserved groups who have had weak education experiences. A much more varied range of schools, programs, supports, and opportunities for learning, inside and outside traditional school buildings and time constraints, will be needed if the opportunity gaps facing New England residents are to be overcome. And multiple pathways to mastery of academic and other 21st century skills will be needed so that the region s young people and underprepared workers who want to advance can learn what they need to succeed in postsecondary learning and careers. New routes are needed that can help the underprepared advance quickly and efficiently from wherever they start and enable them to meet the higher expectations of colleges and employers. This will be a major undertaking, but one that the region cannot afford to ignore. viii NELLIE MAE EDUCATION FOUNDATION The confluence of demographic change and rising educational and skill expectations demands a concerted effort to overcome current gaps in performance of our educational institutions before they become even more acute. This response cannot come solely from educators and schools. Rather, a long-term political and public-will campaign is needed across the region. What is needed is a combination of messaging about the challenges we face, improvements and innovation in practice that can help more underprepared youth and adults advance and succeed, and policy changes that can spread and sustain more effective learning opportunities and outcomes. These can be thought of as efforts to end the invisibility of the most at-risk members of our society, spur a wave of innovation and invention of new options and models for serving struggling and underprepared individuals and enabling them to benefit from college learning, and invest in the infrastructure of policies and partnerships for change that can be sustained over time and lead to significant upgrading of knowledge, skills, and economic success. Philanthropic organizations can play a critical role in helping the region respond to these challenges and plan strategically to improve the educational and economic prospects of the region s residents, particularly its low-income, minority, and underprepared young people and working adults. ix Part 1. The New England Terrain To understand the skills that New Englanders will need in the 21st century, we first must understand who lives in New England and what challenges they face. New England is becoming significantly more diverse, especially among young adults in southern New England, nearly half of whom will be minorities by the year At the same time, the number of young entrants to the workforce is expected to decline. These workers enter a rapidly changing economy that demands advanced knowledge and skills. Massachusetts in particular is transforming into a knowledge economy at an accelerated pace. However, four years of college is not a requisite for success jobs requiring some postsecondary training less than a Bachelor s degree will continue to comprise a majority of the region s employment base. Meanwhile, opportunities for those without education beyond high school are rapidly diminishing. Those with no postsecondary education, particularly men, are dropping out of the workforce as their employment prospects decline. Although New England states appear to lead the nation in educational attainment, certain groups of students are not well served. Low-income, minority, and urban students are achieving at far lower rates than their peers, and in some cases the gap is more pronounced in New England than nationwide. This is particular cause for concern given that these underserved populations are growing in an economy that demands ever more skill. The following pages provide a brief, data-rich portrait of New England today in terms of key trends in the region s demographics, economy and workforce, and residents educational attainment and achievement. 1 WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN THE 21ST CENTURY Demographic Trends In the years to come, minority populations and immigrants will become increasingly prominent among the people of New England. By 2020, minorities will comprise more than a quarter of the working-age population in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island (Coelen & Berger 2006). The share of minorities also will increase in the northern-tier states but less dramatically so. Minority populations will be especially prominent among young workers by 2020, making up nearly half of people age 25 to 29. New England s immigrant populations are also expected to grow rapidly. Immigrant populations have swelled since 1990 in every New England state. Over the past 25 years, the share of immigrants in the Massachusetts workforce has nearly doubled, reaching 17 percent of the total in 2004 (Sum et al. 2005). Table 1: Minority Percentage of New England s Working- Age Population, Connecticut 17.0% 19.9% 24.1% 27.7% Maine 2.2% 2.6% 3.2% 4.0% Massachusetts 12.5% 15.2% 19.1% 27.7% New Hampshire 2.9% 4.0% 5.9% 7.9% Rhode Island 10.8% 14.2% 19.8% 25.1% Vermont 2.0% 2.8% 4.5% 7.5% Table 2: Minority Percentage of New England s Young Workforce Age 25 29, Connecticut 22.1% 31.0% 43.1% 47.8% Maine 2.6% 3.9% 6.7% 8.1% Massachusetts 15.9% 22.8% 31.9% 47.8% New Hampshire 3.4% 7.0% 14.0% 17.1% Rhode Island 13.9% 22.5% 37.5% 46.1% Vermont 3.0% 4.6% 8.7% 13.4% Source: Coelen& Berger (2006) Source: Coelen& Berger (2006) Table 3: Foreign Born, as a Percentage of the New England Population, Connecticut 8.5% 10.9% 12.9% Maine 3.0% 2.9% 3.2% Massachusetts 9.5% 12.2% 14.1% New Hampshire 3.7% 4.4% 5.4% Rhode Island 9.5% 11.4% 12.6% Vermont 3.1% 3.8% 3.9% Source: U.S. Census American Community Survey (2006) 2 NELLIE MAE EDUCATION FOUNDATION At the same time, the number of young people entering the New England workforce is projected to decrease between now and Figure 1: Young Entrants to the New England Labor Force through 2020 This decrease reflects a general graying of the U.S. population over the next two decades as a result of longer life spans and declining fertility. New England s population in 2006 was already considerably older than the rest of the nation, with all New England states except New Hampshire ranking within the 15 grayest states. Table 4: Population 65 and Older, New England, 2006 Percent 65 or older National Rank Maine 14.6% 4 Rhode Island 13.9% 9 Connecticut 13.4% 12 Massachusetts 13.3% 15 Vermont 13.3% 15 New Hampshire 12.4% 31 Source: U.S. Census (2006) Source: Coelen& Berger (2006) 3 WHAT IT TAKES TO SUCCEED IN THE 21ST CENTURY Health and poverty indicators show New England states rank high among the nation, but a significant number of the region s young people are underserved. By some indicators of social welfare, New England states are faring best in the nation. The child advocacy group Every Child Matters ranked five New England states as the top five in the nation in a child vulnerability index based on 10 measures, including child deaths, child poverty, and births to teen girls. However, a significant number of New England s young people are not well served. Eighteen percent of children live in poverty in Maine. Rhode Island places 29th in juvenile incarceration rates. Child poverty is particularly endemic among racial minority groups. In Rhode Island, 26 percent of black and Hispanic children are in poverty, compared to 7.8 percent of white children. More than twothirds of female-headed families in Rhode Island earn less than twice the poverty level (Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College 2006). Table 5: Measures of Social Welfare, New England, 2006 Overall Child Vulnerability Ranking Percent Children in Poverty Percent Uninsured Children Juvenile Incarceration Rate per 100,000 Births to Mothers, Ages per 1,000 Vermont 1 13% 8% Massachusetts 2 12% 7% Connecticut 3 11% 6% Rhode Island 4 15% 4% New Hampshire 5 13% 8% Maine 10 18% 6% Source: Every Child Matters Education Fund; U.S. Census American Community Survey (2006) Eco
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