Editorial urges state to invest in innovative local programs to boost educational attainment, support homegrown talent.

Washington has for too long relied on importing an educated workforce, as this Seattle Times editorial points out.

Washington consistently ranks as one of the most highly educated places in the country, but what those Top 10 lists commonly obscure is that the state imports a lot of that talent while failing to grow its own.

For more than 15 years, enrollment in postsecondary education for recently graduated high school seniors has been stuck at 60% even as employers continue to demand a more educated workforce. The national average is closer to 70%.

That need not be the case. There are actions policymakers can take to expand opportunities and increase attainment levels for Washingtonians.

The state has taken steps in the right direction, including improving access to financial aid through the Washington College Grant, simplified admissions processes and helping students with alternate career pathways through the Career Connect Washington system.

However, more needs to be done to get Washington kids to take advantage of the opportunities available, said Jeff Vincent, chair of the Washington Student Achievement Council.

The council has proposed the Washington Career and College Pathways Innovation Challenge Program, which would help support, at the local level, programs that successfully increase postsecondary enrollment.

More detail in the editorial, which echoes concerns we have raised over time, most recently here and here

Also, we recommend this companion column by Seattle Times editorial page editor Kate Riley.