The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute recently published a new policy report on adult education. The report states that increased support for adult education is critical to supporting the state's economy. Nearly 866,000 Georgians ages 18 to 64 do not have a high school diploma or GED, ranking ninth out of all states with the highest percentage of adults without a HSD, while the state ranks fifth poorest state in the country. Additionally, only 37.5 percent of working adults in Georgia hold a two- or four-year college degree. The report argues that Georgia's economic well-being is directly correlated to the education of its citizens, and that with so many adults still lacking a high school degree, it's imperative the state reallocate funds for education initiatives.

Tough News for Georgia

Though state officials recognize that a skilled workforce is needed to support the economy, college completion goals cannot be met until more Georgians have high school diplomas. With 14 percent of adults ages 18 to 64 without a high school diploma, to meet its workforce needs and postsecondary achievement goal of 60 percent of Georgians holding a postsecondary degree by 2020, the state will need to turn its attention over to its adults who lack proper credentials.1,2

It's no secret that without a high school diploma, citizens everywhere have a higher chance of falling into poverty, face greater risks of health issues and access to food and mobility, and are more likely to have to depend on public assistance to survive. Not to mention those in have a much greater chance of running into trouble with the law and face incarceration. Though however difficult this cycle is to break through, high poverty levels in places like Georgia are hurting the economy and undermining the state's competitiveness. Local and statewide legislatures will have no choice but to find the funds to invest in adult education programs.3,4

In 2014, only 60,000 adults were served through Georgia's adult education programs. Though this is a relatively small number, Georgia has many opportunities and resources already in place: through its technical colleges, nationally acclaimed Accelerated Opportunities adult ed initiative, and state Department of Corrections helping former inmates get access to free education-- just to name a few of the successful programs that have worked before in the state. It's just a matter of incentivizing these initiatives and reallocating funds.

Ohio Steps Up to the Plate

In other recent news in adult education, Ohio announced a major investment in its adult citizens. A new adult education program is gearing for start up to serve adults 22 and older throughout the state. $2.5 million will be distributed equally across the state to build these programs through five community colleges and career centers. Funded through the state's third grade reading guarantee, the Ohio Adult Diploma Program is offering pilot programs in the field of Health & Safety, Manufacturing, Industrial/Construction Trades, Healthcare and Transportation. Adults who enroll in this program will work to earn their high school diploma with a concentration in one of these fields, and will also be certified with an industry credential upon graduation.

Ohio's plan ensures that these pilot programs deliver education that will have meaningful impact. The plan calls for the partnering institutions to "engage industry leaders, determine the most in-demand jobs in their regions and identify the types of certifications graduates need to qualify for those positions." This strategy directly seeks out the need in the economy and builds out educational programs to fit that need. The Ohio Department of Education stated in a press release that adult technical education initiatives in the past have worked especially well in the state, as data has shown. Through competency-based and blended learning techniques, this new adult ed plan seeks to train and help adults achieve their goals by setting them up for career success.5,6,7

Over 10 percent of the entire U.S. population struggles to get by without a high school diploma.8 However sobering this reality, this presents a major opportunity for states to invest in its adult education programs in order to develop skilled workforces and reinvest in its citizens.

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Resources: Photo Credit (1) A Stronger Nation: Georgia data (2) Complete College Georgia: Georgia's Higher Education Completion Plan 2012  (3) Ga.'s Lack of Graduates Threatens Economy, Says Report (4) Improved Adult Education Support Critical to Georgia's Bottom Line (5) Adult Diploma Program: Department announces $1.5 Million planning grant for Adult Diploma Pilot Programs (6) Ohio Adult Education Program Gearing For Start-Up (7) Ohio Announces New Plan to Get High School Dropouts into the Workforce (8) Educational attainment in the United States