Vermont Leaders Launch New Post-Secondary Education Goal | Off Message

Vermont Leaders Launch New Post-Secondary Education Goal

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Tom Cheney, director of 70x2025vt, is flanked by Gov. Phil Scott (left) and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation president Scott Giles on Tuesday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Tom Cheney, director of 70x2025vt, is flanked by Gov. Phil Scott (left) and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation president Scott Giles on Tuesday.
Vermonters might have heard this before: State leaders want to ensure that more eighth graders are thinking about career options and how they’ll prepare for them. Officials have set a goal whereby more working-age adults will have a college degree or job certification. They intend to provide more unemployed people with the skills needed to get available jobs.

All those ideas have been discussed many times over the decades. But a new initiative called 70x2025vt is taking another stab at those efforts. Its organizers insist they have put together the right collaboration this time to reach a new goal: 70 percent of working-age Vermonters will have a post-secondary degree or credential that can land them a job by the year 2025.

“We must be bold and that’s exactly what 70 by 2025 is,” Gov. Phil Scott said in announcing the program Tuesday at PC Construction Company in South Burlington.

To meet the goal, 30,000 more Vermonters will need to attain some form of job training or college education, said Tom Cheney, the director of 70x2025vt.

Jay Fayette, PC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, endorsed the initiative as a key to producing skilled workers for industries like his. “There’s too great a need coupled with too small a talent pool,” he said.

The 70x2025vt program is fueled by $250,000 in funding from the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, the Lumina Foundation and the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, said Scott Giles, the president and chief executive officer of VSAC, which initiated the concept.

Giles acknowledged that the state set a similar goal in 2010. Then, lawmakers declared that 60 percent of Vermonters would have a post-secondary degrees or credentials. Giles said the state's higher education and government officials failed then to come together to work in unison toward that goal.

This time is different, he insisted. Currently, Giles said, about 50 percent of Vermonters have the necessary post-secondary education.
COURTESY OF 70X2025VT
  • Courtesy of 70x2025vt
Leaders hope to bring that to 70 percent by helping more eighth graders prepare for careers. It depends, too, on more high school students following through on stated goals to attend college and trades programs, Giles said.

Already, he said, better coordinated efforts have increased by 5 percent the number of low-income students who complete the college financial aid process, arming them with a better idea of whether they can afford college. He said Vermont students leave $2 million a year in financial aid on the table.


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