Lumina's goal—that 60% of Americans hold degrees, certificates or other high-quality postsecondary credentials by 2025—is essential to meeting our nation’s growing need for talent.
Between now and 2025, assuming current rates of degree and certificate production continue, about 24.2 million Americans will earn postsecondary credentials. To reach the goal, 16.4 million more need to be added to that total. Lumina is committed under our current strategic plan to make substantial progress by 2020 toward this total. Specifically, our target is to increase attainment by 5.9 million over the next three years. These credentials will be earned by the millions of Americans who will not obtain postsecondary credentials if we keep doing what we’re doing but could be added to the total counting toward the goal.
Over the course of our first two strategic plans, we have made substantial progress toward the goal. With clear and abundant evidence, we now know that to increase postsecondary attainment to the levels we need, we must work with many partners to build an equitable postsecondary learning system out of our current disparate and disconnected systems. Fortunately, the need to increase postsecondary attainment is now widely recognized by the American people, and state and local leaders throughout the nation are mobilized to take action.
It is time to move to action on solutions that dramatically increase attainment to reach the goal. The comprehensive system of postsecondary learning that Lumina is committed to help build will allow all Americans to obtain credentials representing the knowledge and skills they—and the nation—need. It is the key to meeting the nation’s growing demand for talent.
What is the Issue?
The U.S. lags behind its global competitors in postsecondary attainment. America currently ranks a disappointing 11th in global postsecondary attainment, but the pace of attainment among younger adults is even more troubling. According to the OECD data, an astounding 64 percent of young adults (ages 25-34) in South Korea have completed education beyond high school. Those rates in Japan and Canada are approaching 60 percent, while young adults in the U.S. are hovering just above 40 percent.
Why is the Goal so Urgent?
Our rapidly evolving, complex economy is causing a surge in demand for skilled employees. Two-thirds of all jobs created in this decade will require some form of postsecondary education, according to the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. Today, only about 40 percent of adults in the U.S. have achieved that level of education. Americans with a high-school diploma or less accounted for four out every five jobs lost in the recent recession.
Who is Affected?
Students who’ve traditionally been under-represented by the old system. When we talk about access for underserved students, it's with a focus on today's student These are low-income, racial and ethnic minorities, working adults, and first-generation students. The students we once called nontraditional are no longer the exception in postsecondary education … they are the rule. These 21st-century students represent our future—not merely the future of the higher education enterprise, but the future of the nation itself.
How Can I Help?
Read about the many ways to contribute to the national effort to increase attainment. We have suggestions for innovative thinkers, institutional leaders, policymakers, student advocates, and families to connect and share strategies with others working to help students succeed. There is a role for everyone in both public and private sectors to contribute. The goal is not just Lumina Foundation's goal, it's the nation's goal for creating a stronger nation through higher education.