Education is the heart of a healthy economy and it is one of the most important assets we have to attract businesses to our region, create new jobs, and ensure we have a strong workforce to fill those jobs. A thriving, sustainable economy depends on talent – a workforce with the skills and background that businesses need to be successful, and that’s why GSI works to create intentional partnerships between business and education.
It’s a fact that our economy is changing. Today’s workforce looks much different than it did 50 years ago. Many technology-driven jobs in industries like aerospace and health sciences require post-secondary education and that’s why this year we’re launching a new initiative that will expand our scope to include the approximately 74,000 Spokane County working adults who have earned some college credit but have not yet attained a degree. Our intention is to improve the proportion of residents in Spokane County with high-quality credentials, and 2- and 4-year degrees from 40% to 60% by 2025.
Many working adults are challenged by limitations that require flexibility and creativity on the parts of their educators and employers. By partnering with employers and higher education institutions to identify barriers and incentive models, we aim to shape strategies that effectively reengage our working adult population, an endeavor that benefits us all.
- Adults with post-secondary credentials tend to earn more over a lifetime – a 2- or 4-year degree could result in earnings that are two or three times higher than an adult without equivalent education. More education equates to more opportunity, and provides access to career fields that would not otherwise be available.
- Employers benefit from improved productivity and increased employee retention. When the available workforce possesses requisite skill and ability, employers are able to rapidly respond to changes in labor needs.
- Higher education partners with business and becomes more nimble in creating systems that benefit working adults as students.
- Continued learning sparks creativity and innovation, leading to a more vibrant marketplace, an engaged and highly capable workforce, and new limits for educational capacity.
These important efforts are funded by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Lumina Award. GSI was one of five communities chosen for this national funding and as we look toward 2025 we like what we see. We are grateful for the energy and support of our partners and are excited about the opportunities these collaborations will create.
If you’d like to learn more about this important initiative, contact Education & Workforce Program Manager Meg Lindsay.