Workers Ahead - Postsecondary Attainment in R.I.


Office of Postsecondary Commissioner Releases Postsecondary Attainment Report

Addresses path to higher education acquisition among adults; Secures funding from national grants

WARWICK, RHODE ISLAND (May 16, 2019) – Commissioner Brenda Dann-Messier today released Skilled Workers Ahead: Postsecondary Attainment in Rhode Island a report that represents the culmination of two years of work to devise a comprehensive plan to help Rhode Islanders prepare for successful employment with the right mix of degrees and credentials.

“When the Governor set the ambitious goal that 70 percent of working-age citizens will hold a postsecondary degree or credential of value by 2025, she turned to the Office of the Postsecondary Commissioner to create the plan to get us all there,” said Dann-Messier. “Our talented team has worked diligently with policy experts, with the institutions of higher education, with the employer community, and with many other stakeholders to pinpoint the targets and design the plan that will position the state for successful achievement of the goal.”

The Commissioner also announced that her team secured two major grants to fund the tactical portion of the plan. Walmart and Lumina Foundation granted $495,492 and $399,700, respectively, to aid the Ocean State in helping 90,000 Rhode Islanders earn degrees and credentials.

“We’re thrilled by the confidence Lumina Foundation and Walmart have in our attainment plan,” said Dann-Messier. “Lumina’s investment will enable us to launch an online portal to serve as a single point of entry to postsecondary education and job opportunities for adult Rhode Islanders; devise a communications and outreach campaign with strategies to reach underrepresented populations, including Rhode Islanders of color and low-income adults; and establish navigators to help students who are coping with barriers that draw focus away from education. Support from Walmart will expand educational pathways for Rhode Islanders working in our state’s service-sector industries.”

The Skilled Workers Ahead plan builds on the work of The Roadmap to Attainment glide path, shared in February, 2018. In order to achieve the 70 percent attainment goal, the state will need to address racial and ethnic equity gaps and focus on working adults aged 25-34, who are most vulnerable to job instability in the changing workforce. Additional strategies outlined include expanding access and preparation in the preschool-grade 12 pipeline and strengthening investments in retention and completion.