State leaders announce education plan to push for more college degrees

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- By 2030, state officials have set a goal for two million North Carolinians, between 25 and 44 years old, to earn a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.

"We recognize that there is a gap in between the number of citizens that are educated properly to be able to participate in the economy going forward. There's a skills gap. So what this goal is about is bridging that skills gap by 2030," said Dale Jenkins, My Future NC Commission co-chair.

Officials want students to focus on continuing their education, whether that is a four-year degree or some type of certification. Right now, only 30 percent of students who enter the ninth grade will finish a two or four-year degree six years after graduation.

"You think about all the changes in the economy in technology in society...it's going to be increasingly necessary for North Carolinians to have education credentials beyond high school," said Peter Hans, My Future NC Commission co-chair.

The plan has already been partially funded by investors like the Belk Family and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but it will take public funding as well.

The announcement comes on the heels of State Superintendent Mark Johnson's plan to increase teacher salary by five percent over the next decade. He said the plans work well together.

"We can do it. We have all the ingredients right now, which are the hardworking educators. This dovetails right into it because we need to have a goal to where our students go after they graduate from high school," Johnson said.

Currently, only 1.3 million North Carolinians have a high-quality postsecondary degree or credential.
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