Vermont Governor Phil Scott joined education and business leaders Tuesday at PC Construction in South Burlington to launch 70-by-2025-Vermont. The goal of the initiative is to get 70 percent of Vermonters advanced training or education credentials by 2025.
Education and business officials, Governor Phil Scott and members of the 70x2025 coalition gathered at the employee-owned construction company in South Burlington to emphasize the growing need for advanced training or degrees in order to get jobs.
Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, or VSAC, President and CEO Scott Giles says several years ago education leaders came together to assess the state’s education and economic needs. From that, he says, the 70x2025VT initiative was born. “As we took a look at the future of the state we came together around two things: that two-thirds of all the jobs in Vermont, the future high-paying jobs, will require education or training after high school and that for any Vermonter who’s seeking to be able to earn a liveable wage in this state they were going to need education and training. And the second one is that the economic future of our state really depends upon our ability to provide education to all Vermonters. We landed with an audacious goal that 70 percent of all Vermonters would have a degree or a credential of value by the year 2025.”
70x2025VT Director Tom Cheney says the initiative is vital to the economic wellbeing of the state as employers seek qualified employees. He also says there must be a focus on the public’s perception about the importance of post-secondary education. “We know that those with education after high school are more likely to be financially secure, have healthy and stable families and be engaged in their communities. We know that Vermont employers are facing a skill shortage and this is one that won’t get easier as we move forward without action.”
Cheney adds that while the goal seems simple, it will not be easy to accomplish. “The numbers that we’re looking at are about 30,000 more Vermonters will need to earn a degree or credential by 2025. And so to do that we’ll take a look at a few different areas but we’ll have to engage the 60,000 Vermonters who began education after high school but didn’t complete.”
Governor Scott, a first-term Republican, says his most important commitment is creating more economic opportunity for all Vermonters. He calls 70x2025 a bold workforce expansion effort. “One of the things I’ve heard and I hear when I meet employers is how hard it is to find employees to fill the open positions they have. These jobs are there but the skilled workers are not. Nearly 7 out of the 10 high pay high demand jobs over the next decade will require some education and training after high school. We must break down the silos to ensure employers, educators and policymakers are working together to increase access to educational opportunities for Vermonters.”
PC Construction Chief Operating Officer Jay Fayette believes the program is of critical importance to every Vermont employer and employee. “Every industry in this great state is served by this initiative. The bottom line here is there’s too great a need coupled with too small a talent pool. And the 70x2025 initiative is going right to the heart of it.”
Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Jeb Spaulding feels it’s imperative that the initiative be successful. “If we’re going to address the continually growing inequality gap between the haves and the have-nots we need to provide opportunities for post-secondary education, which is the lynchpin for upward mobility.”
70x2025VT also released a report on the importance of ensuring 70 percent of Vermonters possess a degree or advanced credential by 2025.