POLICY AGENDA: Sharing Our Priorities for 2023

Washingtonians have demonstrated tremendous strength and resiliency following the COVID-19 pandemic. State revenue collections continue to come in higher than expected and employment projections remain strong. That said, national efforts to tackle inflation and other challenges raise concerns about the potential for an economic downturn.

Amidst these challenges, state policymakers have an opportunity to chart a course to diverse and inclusive statewide growth. This work must include preparing for an uncertain economic future with a commitment to sustainable fiscal policy that limits spending growth and avoids added cost burdens on employers; infrastructure investments that support economic vitality; and focused efforts to ensure Washingtonians are positioned to earn the post-high school credentials they will need to access the career opportunities of the future.

The members of the Washington Roundtable are fully committed to these efforts, and we are pleased to share our 2023 Policy Agenda. We look forward to hard work, strong collaboration, and progress on behalf of communities, employers, and families across all of Washington state.

REPORT: Why Washingtonians Value Credentials But Aren’t Completing Them

Research in 2021 indicated that Washington would add 373,000 net new jobs over five years, at least 70% of which will be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential. It is vitally important—to our state’s future and our residents—that more Washingtonians pursue the credentials that fuel our workforce and our economy. Yet, postsecondary enrollment stagnated through much of the last decade and declined markedly during the pandemic.

As a state, we must better understand why more Washingtonians don’t pursue and complete the credentials they need to succeed in the job market.

Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning, in collaboration with social-impact research and consulting firm Kinetic West, sought to explore the attitudes and beliefs of Washington adults who decided not to pursue postsecondary education or stopped before completing a credential. Our research partners surveyed 800 Washington adults, largely under age 35, who have not completed education or training beyond high school. Research findings indicate these Washingtonians:

  1. Recognize the value of postsecondary education and believe they would be better off with a credential.
  2. Most frequently cite cost as a barrier to postsecondary attendance.
  3. Want access to more hands-on postsecondary learning and opportunities to earn money while they learn.
  4. Desire more flexibility in how and when they could access postsecondary education, and want to be able to move through credentialing programs more quickly.
  5. Were not dissuaded from postsecondary education by discouragement from others or a belief that they wouldn’t be welcome on campus.

Read more in this new report.

Around the Table: Avista, Fred Hutch, Comcast, Seattle Storm, Nordstrom, U.S. Bank

Education-to-Career Pathway Spotlight: Students from underrepresented communities are gaining improved access to career pathways through hands-on learning opportunities at Washington Roundtable member companies like Avista Utilities and Fred Hutch. Internships and research programs in energy and biomedical sciences provide the chance to work with professionals, learn by doing, receive mentorship, build their networks, and more. In Partnership for Learning’s latest blog and video series about Avista’s Energy Pathways program, learn how students are working toward credentials and cultivating promising careers.

Supporting Communities: Comcast announced a new round of cities – including Seattle – will receive grants from the Comcast RISE Investment Fund, providing an additional $5 million to hundreds of small businesses owned by people of color, including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic, and Asian American owners, and women. Seattle Storm and Nordstrom are working with Shoes That Fit on their 12th annual back-to school- campaign to provide sneakers to youth in need.

Changing the Quality of Work: U.S. Bank is working to improve job quality for lower-wage workers by providing community development financial institutions (CDFIs) access to capital investments. This initiative will help small businesses meet their financial goals, build racial equity, and enable more small businesses to prosper.

Around the Table: Pacific NW Nat’l Laboratory, Microsoft, Alaska Air, Bristol Myers Squibb, Mariners

Check out a snippet of recent news from Roundtable members:
  • Commitment to Sustainability & Climate: In its 2022 Sustainability Report, Boeing provides a comprehensive view of achievements and progress toward the industry’s net-zero ambitions and goals. Pacific Northwest Laboratory shares in the Tri-City Herald how its scientists are studying materials to enable safe, cost-effective hydrogen storage, which can play an important role in achieving the nation’s net-zero carbon emissions goals. Microsoft, Alaska Air, and carbon transformation company Twelve announced that they are collaborating to advance sustainable aviation fuel derived from recaptured CO2 and renewable energy.
  • Advancing Equity & Inclusion: Bristol Myers Squibb recently announced a partnership with Jack and Jill of America Inc to support BMS’ Tomorrow’s Innovators HBCU Initiative to increase workforce representation by creating and sustaining a pipeline of diverse talent.
  • Supporting Communities: Applications are now open for the Seattle Mariners’ Community Impact Grants, which seek to increase positive health outcomes and accelerate equitable outcomes for BIPOC communities.