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Campaign aims to boost college degree tally for Hawaii's working population

By Nanea Kalani


Gov. Neil Abercrombie and state education leaders pledged their commitment today to significantly boost the number of adults earning college degrees in the islands over the next decade.

The move is seen as key to preparing the state's workforce for competitive jobs.

The nonprofit Hawaii P-20 Partnerships for Education set a goal back in 2007 to have 55 percent of the working population holding two- or four-year college degrees by 2025.

"Hawaii as a state is doing better in college attainment, but the growth is too slow," said Karen Lee, executive director of Hawaii P-20, a statewide coalition led by the Executive Office on Early Learning, Department of Education and University of Hawaii system. ("P-20" refers to the educational pipeline from preschool through college.)

Lee said that as of 2012, less than 42 percent of Hawaii's adults held an associate's or bachelor's degree. She said the rate is especially alarming in light of a recent a report by the Georgetown University Center on Education and Workforce showing that 65 percent of jobs here will require some college by 2018.

"We need to prepare our students to be ready for those jobs," she said. "Our educators are doing a great job, but they can't work in a vacuum. We need families, business leaders, community groups and the general public to pledge their support to help Hawaii's keiki and students to strive higher."

At a press conference held today, Lee's group announced the launch of its so-called 55 by '25 campaign, which aims to increase public awareness and support for the initiative.

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peum wrote:
They shouldn't just generalize "degrees". They should campaign to push STEM degrees.
on January 28,2014 | 03:09PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
peum, oh yes. Those are the only worthy degrees, in your opinion, yes?
on January 28,2014 | 05:29PM
inHilo wrote:
In a way, peum is right, but then the upper levels of UH admin get involved, and the budgetary process takes on a decidedly negative approach to any degree outside of STEM. Unfortunately for administrators, who keep pushing to get students through school faster while requiring the minimum number of courses, without any prerequisites, many students come to college unprepared to major in the sciences...or any other degree. Hurry up and get through before your financial aid runs out doesn't work for students who need the basics before moving on to tougher courses. Students face the same problems in non-stem degrees but it is easier there to blame low success rates on faculty, by claiming they are asking too much of students and setting standards too high. This is a tougher sell in STEM, where the number of failures and lack of students seeking STEM degrees points directly to the problem: lack of preparation on the students part and failure on admin's part to understand the difference between handing out a degree and providing an education. So administrators cut the number of courses outside of stem, don't hire new instructors in humanities or social sciences, for example, and pay teachers in those areas less than those in STEM, while doing everything possible to get more federal money for STEM programs. This is leadership without vision.
on January 29,2014 | 05:26AM
RetiredWorking wrote:
inHilo, I thank you for an excellent response.:)
on January 29,2014 | 09:07AM
Ronin006 wrote:
It is hard to believe that 65 percent of jobs in Hawaii will require some college by 2018. Tourism is Hawaii’s economic engine followed by the public sector. Visions of Hawaii becoming a tech center never have materialized and perhaps never will. Agriculture is coming back to a small degree, but will never be relevant as it once was. So exactly what is happening that will result in two thirds of all jobs in Hawaii requiring some college in four years? Show us the list of jobs.
on January 28,2014 | 04:42PM
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