Source: Complete College Colorado
DENVER DAILY NEWS
Gov. Bill Ritter and education advocates on Monday launched a campaign to raise awareness of higher education programs and services available in Colorado.
The Complete College Colorado initiative comes as a state panel studying higher education in Colorado has recommended asking voters for a tax increase to competitively fund higher education in Colorado.
Ritter has said that he will make education a priority over the next two months as he prepares to exit office and assists Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper with his transition into state office.
“Colorado’s ability to compete in the 21st century economy will depend on how well we prepare our children for the jobs of the future, which will increasingly require a college degree,” Ritter said in a statement. “Making college affordable and accessible to Colorado’s children has been a top priority of my administration. That includes helping our students go the last mile to earn their degrees, which is why I am launching Complete College Colorado.”
The campaign not only aims to educate the public on what higher education programs and services are available in Colorado, but also on the importance of post-secondary degrees for Colorado’s economic future.
In the recommendations released last week by the governor’s Higher Education Strategic Planning Committee, the report also points to a shift in the education requirements for Colorado jobs. By 2018, nearly 70 percent of jobs in Colorado will require higher education and training, according to the report.
Meanwhile, higher education spending in Colorado continues to lag the rest of the nation, with Colorado ranking 48th in the nation for higher education operating expenses per capita.
The campaign announced by Ritter is not officially tied to any campaigns that may be assembled to ask voters for a tax increase to fund higher education. Education advocates said last week that no specific plans have been established yet for such a campaign, or whether the Legislature will first be asked to refer the question to voters.
The Complete College Colorado campaign will include a variety of events, statewide community outreach, a Web site — CompleteCollegeColorado.com — and a social media (Facebook) component, according to a news release issued by the governor’s office.
“The importance of a higher education degree cannot be overstated,” Rico Munn, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said in a statement. “According to recent figures published by the Higher Education Strategic Planning Committee, having an associate’s degree increases the wages of a high school graduate by 36 percent over a lifetime, while obtaining a bachelor’s degree almost doubles the income of a high school graduate. An individual with a master’s degree makes approximately 150 percent more than a high school graduate, and a doctoral degree or professional degree triples or quadruples an individual’s earning potential, respectively.”
The campaign will focus on four primary themes:
» The impact of degree attainment on Colorado’s workforce and economy;
» Financial aid resources available across the state to help individuals afford higher education;
» The P-20 education reform movement — designed to address public education down the pipeline; and
» Programs and services available statewide to assist adults in returning to school to complete their degrees.
“Improving degree attainment statewide will be crucial in order to meet the future jobs and workforce needs of the state,” Kelly Brough, chief executive of the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement. “According to a recent study, Colorado ranks fifth among the states for the percentage of jobs in 2018 that will require a postsecondary education and third for those that will require a bachelor’s degree. It is further estimated that by 2018, 67 percent of all jobs in Colorado will require some postsecondary training. As things stand currently, in order to fill these jobs, Colorado will need to import qualified workers from other states or countries or risk losing the business. Having a more educated workforce better positions Colorado to be competitive in the marketplace of the future.”
For more information, visit CompleteCollegeColorado.com, or www.facebook.com/CompleteCollegeColorado.
In other coverage:
Denver Business Journal: The business community has a large role in the Complete College Colorado program that Gov. Bill Ritter announced Monday. The program, designed to increase the number of Coloradans who complete their college degrees, will run a monthlong campaign to raise awareness of programs and services available statewide to help people advance their educations. The campaign will include events, community outreach and other efforts to build awareness of programs and services available statewide.