LOUISIANA’S TALENT IMPERATIVE
It is difficult to imagine a more critical component of Louisiana’s success, past, present, and future, than developing the talent of her people. Throughout our history, our colleges and universities have served as the gateway to economic advancement. The core mission of higher education is service: to students, to communities, to the people of the state, to partners in the private sector, and to the world far beyond the borders of Louisiana. The value of the work of colleges and universities is demonstrated every day as students access the tools and opportunities of education and training while the state reaps the economic, social, and cultural benefits of a trained and educated population. A high-quality higher education system develops and retains talent in Louisiana, seeds innovation, grows opportunity, and launches us into a high-tech, highly connected future.
President Lyndon Johnson, in his first State of the Union address in 1964, captured the challenge Louisiana faces now: “Very often a lack of jobs and money is not the cause of poverty, but the symptom. The cause may lie deeper in our failure to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities, in a lack of education and training, in a lack of medical care and housing, in a lack of decent communities in which to live and bring up their children.”
Louisiana’s Talent Imperative is a commitment to our citizens, families, communities, and employers to extend much more widely the benefits of postsecondary education. Data clearly demonstrate the value of higher education. During the period 2010-2014, in the long aftermath of the Great Recession, individuals with postsecondary credentials worked full- and part-time at a rate 10-30 points higher than individuals who stopped out of the education pipeline during or immediately after high school. The impact of higher education on income levels is even more dramatic, with bachelor’s and professional degree holders earning 50-100% more than high school graduates.1
These skilled earners are essential to this virtuous cycle: educated people are more likely to be employed, paying taxes and buying goods and services – supporting the local economy. This ready workforce attracts businesses who need skilled employees, creating a vibrant community and region to sustain this structure. In addition, higher levels of education correlate with a number of social goods: better health outcomes, higher civic participation and lower incarceration rates. By contrast, undereducated citizens directly cost their states and localities more in terms of increased social expenses and lost wages, as well as the significant gaps in contributing human capital that can lift families and strengthen communities.
Louisiana has faced extreme challenges over the past two decades: devastation from weather events, uncertainty around the traditional industrial bases of the state, and severe reductions in state funding. The resilience of the state throughout these events reveals the strength of our communities and the need to help them maximize their potential. Postsecondary education has embraced this need despite hardship and instability, focusing on student success and enrolling and graduating more students than ever before.
To move Louisiana aggressively forward, the Board of Regents has embraced a robust new attainment goal that calls for 60% of all working-age adults (ages 25-64) in Louisiana to hold a degree or high-value credential by 2030. As we stand on the brink of a new decade, this Master Plan, born of the Board of Regents’ unique charge to guide postsecondary education across the state, will set the foundation to increase opportunity. Our Talent Imperative is to Educate, Innovate, and Collaborate.