Op-ed promotes career-connected learning to improve economic opportunity.

Career-connected learning works for employers and students, as we’ve written before. In a Seattle Times op-ed today, Sen. Lisa Wellman and Rep. Vandana Slatter reinforce the importance of providing students with a solid educational pathway to career opportunities. 

We know that today’s jobs require education beyond high school. But our graduation rate is still under 80 percent, and only 40 percent of our high school students earn a credential or degree after high school by the time they are 26 years old.

Meanwhile, businesses can’t find workers with the skills they need. This means that despite the state’s strong economic growth, thousands of Washington students are being left behind every single year.

The situation is serious and getting more urgent. In the next few years, Washington employers are anticipating 740,000 job openings with jobs that require technical certification, apprenticeship or college degrees.

As the Washington Roundtable’s Benchmarks for a Better Washington, updated yesterday, reports, our state’s high school graduation rate ranks 44th in the nation and we rank 46th in Bachelor’s degrees awarded.

The legislators’ op-ed discusses legislation passes last session to improve the situation.

This bill helps close that gap by investing in free college and other important programs. One of these is Career Connect Washington, which provides a fundamental new framework for connecting students to high demand, high potential jobs, and higher education, job training and actual employment. Through a regional approach of supporting localized networks focused on the needs of our diverse state, each area of our state will be able to help students learn about, explore and prepare for their careers.

They close,

In a good economy, people have a real and fair chance to succeed with job opportunities that offer meaningful work, allowing people to support their families and come home every day with a sense of dignity.

As parents, students and workers, and leaders of education, government and industry, we must ensure that all people in our communities have the opportunity to participate fully in our future economy. Career Connect Washington is critical to ensuring that those doors are truly open to everyone.