Greater Minds: Increasing Education Attainment by the Numbers

According to a survey of local businesses, 56 percent of employees want to earn a degree or certificate after high school.

GSI provided a survey to area employers, to learn more about employee education levels, post-secondary interests and the barriers they may face when completing their post-secondary aspirations. Seven of eight companies involved in Greater Minds, GSI’s education attainment initiative, shared it with 5,919 employees throughout our region. This resulted in more than 2,100 responses. As the Greater Minds initiative adds new partners, we’ll update survey information.

What did we learn from our local employees?

  • 741 adults have some college experience or a high-level certificate, but less than a 4-year degree.
  • An additional 125 of these employees have no college or apprenticeship experience.
  • 56 percent want to earn a higher level of post-secondary attainment and most understand what it takes to further their education.
  • A top barrier to completing their education was Tuition and Fees.
  • 5 percent indicated personal satisfaction and 58.6 percent indicated job promotion as important reasons to earn a degree.
  • Many mentioned that financial assistance, flexible class time and schedules, and customized planning could make the difference in their degree completion.

Our survey included responses from partner companies, which include Caterpillar Inc., Community Colleges of Spokane, Numerica Credit Union, PAML, Pearson Packaging, Spokane County, Spokane Public Schools, STCU, and Umpqua Bank.

One company that recently took the Greater Minds survey was Caterpillar Inc., which has a distribution center in Spokane. The company’s survey results will be included in future updates. Results from the Greater Minds survey paint a picture of education attainment in the Spokane area, in order to help businesses create a stronger workforce. Studies show that completing a higher education degree or acquiring a high-quality certificate helps create a healthy economy and a thriving community.

Melissa Steen, Human Resources Coordinator at the Caterpillar Inc. Spokane Distribution Center said, “The information gathered by these surveys are essential to understanding the needs and goals of our employees and how we can help them to achieve those goals. With this information, we are able to gauge our needs and understand the resources that we need in order to help our employees be successful.”

If 56 percent of the 86,000 working adults in Spokane County who have some college but no degree also wanted to achieve a higher level of post-secondary attainment, this would equate to 48,160 adults with post-secondary aspirations.

Providing education assistance options could be the tipping point for a region developing a skilled and highly educated workforce, which is part of what will make the Spokane region an even more valuable place to live and do business in the future.

Are you interested in building the talent pool for your company? Visit or email to learn more.


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