Research in 2021 indicated that Washington would add 373,000 net new jobs over five years, at least 70% of which will be filled by workers with a postsecondary credential. It is vitally important—to our state’s future and our residents—that more Washingtonians pursue the credentials that fuel our workforce and our economy. Yet, postsecondary enrollment stagnated through much of the last decade and declined markedly during the pandemic.
As a state, we must better understand why more Washingtonians don’t pursue and complete the credentials they need to succeed in the job market.
Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning, in collaboration with social-impact research and consulting firm Kinetic West, sought to explore the attitudes and beliefs of Washington adults who decided not to pursue postsecondary education or stopped before completing a credential. This research is part of a larger strategic effort exploring how the business community might advocate for increased opportunity, prosperity, and equity for all Washingtonians. Our research partners surveyed 800 Washington adults, largely under age 35, who have not completed education or training beyond high school.
Research findings indicate these Washingtonians:
- Recognize the value of postsecondary education and believe they would be better off with a credential.
- Most frequently cite cost as a barrier to postsecondary attendance.
- Want access to more hands-on postsecondary learning and opportunities to earn money while they learn.
- Desire more flexibility in how and when they could access postsecondary education, and want to be able to move through credentialing programs more quickly.
- Were not dissuaded from postsecondary education by discouragement from others or a belief that they wouldn’t be welcome on campus.