Making College Work for Students and the Economy

At a Glance

JFF research finds that states have made progress in adopting several essential policy elements, but critical gaps remain that are undercutting talent development aims and contributing to persistent disparities in education and employment outcomes.

Notes / Takeaways
  1. States are data rich, but information poor.
  2. Expanding access is not enough.
  3. Better align systems to maximize impact.
Published jan. 30, 2020

Talent Development

Focus on Talent Development Needs of Regional and State Economies

To meet employer needs and put learners on a path to economic success, states need to provide the right information and incentives to drive talent development priorities. Policy recommendations 1 through 6 represent the building blocks for strong talent development systems.

Click on icons below to find a series of research findings focused on Talent Development.

Efficient Pathways

Create Efficient Pathways to Postsecondary Credentials

To complement talent development aims, states need to set policies that create more efficient and seamless pathways for all learners to enter, persist in, and complete postsecondary programs of study. Policy recommendations 7 through 11 represent proven approaches for accelerating attainment of postsecondary credentials that have value in the labor market.

Click on icons below to find a series of research findings focused on Efficient Pathways.

Student Potential

Help all students fulfill their potential

It is not enough to set talent development priorities and to make pathways clearer and more efficient if learners still encounter insurmountable barriers to credential attainment. This holds especially true if those learners are low-income and first-generation college students. Policy recommendations 12 through 15 provide tangible ways that state policy can help all learners navigate their education and career choices, pay for college, and address life’s challenges as they endeavor to earn a credential. Without these policies, higher education will continue to reinforce, as opposed to reduce, equity gaps.

Click on icons below to find a series of research findings focused on Student Potential.

Through our policy research, JFF found many instances where state policymakers are stepping up to create supportive policy conditions that we see as essential for catalyzing collective action and impact in addressing talent development, credential attainment, and economic advancement aims. We encourage you to download the entire report to get a full view of our research and recommendations.

It is important to remember that community colleges cannot solve this workforce imperative alone—all stakeholders must get involved to ensure that the future is learner-ready and worker-ready.