The Roundtable works to effect positive change on public policy issues that are most important to supporting state economic vitality and fostering opportunity for all Washingtonians. That work includes sharing news and analyzing policy developments affecting our state.

Higher postsecondary attainment is key to state’s future success

In a recent report, A Stronger Nation through Higher Education, the Lumina Foundation finds that 43.8 percent of Washington state’s 3.8 million working-age adults (those between the ages of 25 and 64) hold a two- or four-year college degree. The percentage increased from 42.5 percent in 2010 and is slightly above the national rate of 41.6 percent.

The Washington State Board of Education provides another look at postsecondary attainment, with 2013-14 data that shows 52 percent of high school graduates attaining certificates, credentials, or completing apprenticeships prior to age 26 (2013-14 data).

Compare this to where we need and want to be as a state, and we know there’s work to do.

By the end of this decade, an estimated 70 percent of jobs in Washington state (as compared to 65 percent nationally) will require postsecondary training.  The state legislature last year adopted a postsecondary attainment goal: At least 70 percent of Washington adults, ages 25 to 44, will have a postsecondary credential by 2023. (See more details in the “Achieve” section of the Opportunity Washington roadmap.)

The decisions that the 2015 Legislature makes in the coming weeks will be important to reaching that goal. Lawmakers should prioritize higher education funding and position the state’s postsecondary system to support economic opportunity through better alignment with workforce needs and greater capacity for high-demand STEM programs.


Percentage of Washington residents, ages 25-64, who hold a two- or four-year college degree




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