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Business Observer Friday, Apr. 12, 2019 3 years ago

Mixed results in attainment gap progress report

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FutureMakers Coalition 2018 data shows high school graduation up, post-secondary credential holders steady in effort to improve workforce development.

A recently released report by The FutureMakers Coalition shows mixed results in workforce development in Southwest Florida, citing gains in high school graduation rates but little change in the percentage of working-age adults holding post-secondary credentials.

Report highlights include:

• High school graduation rates have increased by 5.9% since 2013 to 81.9%; 

• Rates of FAFSA (higher education financial aid application) completion have increased with the help of FutureMakers campaigns and federal process improvements. However, completion rates dropped from 47% in 2017 to 43.5% in 2018, perhaps due in part to challenges resulting from Hurricane Irma;

• The percentage of the working-age population with post-secondary credentials has remained steady since 2013. As the population has grown, 9,606 more degree and certificate holders were added to the working-age population between 2013 and 2016; 

• Gaps in high school and post-secondary completion for African-Americans and Latinos persist when compared to their white counterparts. 

The data show attainment gaps between racial and socio-economic populations persist, so FutureMakers is refocusing its work on target populations that are most vulnerable. 

“It is essential to identify and address the system barriers causing these equity gaps in achievement as we look at the work of the FutureMakers Coalition moving forward,” says Tessa LeSage, director of social innovation and sustainability for the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, which founded the FutureMakers Coalition in 2013. “We should aim to set equitable attainment goals to provide interventions to alleviate these barriers.”

The foundation launched the FutureMakers Coalition in 2013, with a mission to identify and implement programs to remove barriers along the cradle-to-career pathway, which begins with early childhood learning and ends with post-secondary credential attainment and job placement. The full report and recommendations are available at futuremakerscoalition.com/reports.

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