The State of Educational Attainment in North Carolina

Jessi Rae Morton

News Editor

On Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, North Carolina government, education, business and nonprofit leaders convened for The State of Educational Attainment in North Carolina, hosted by myFutureNC. According to a press release issued on Feb. 6, “Based on the most recent census data, North Carolina remains 444,000 individuals short of reaching the 2030 goal, and already 31,000 skilled workers behind where the state needs to be to stay on track to meet the goal.” Additionally, the press release notes that “community college enrollment is down 13% since before the pandemic, and jobs requiring a postsecondary degree or credential are projected to increase by 12% by 2030.”

In 2019, the North Carolina General Assembly set a goal “to have 2 million North Carolinians ages 25-44 hold an industry-valued credential or postsecondary degree by 2030” and “myFutureNC is the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization responsible for monitoring progress and accelerating action and good policies in support of North Carolina’s Educational Attainment Goal of 2 million by 2030.” myFutureNC describes itself as a “nonprofit organization focused on educational attainment” with a mission “to prepare North Carolina for the future by empowering individuals, strengthening communities, and ensuring our economic viability in a global economy.” An overview of the 2022 North Carolina State of Educational Attainment Report is available on myFutureNC’s website, and the full report is also available for download. According to myFutureNC, the report “shows that while some metrics are trending in the right direction, the majority are flatlined or lagging.”

Because myFutureNC set out to gather data related to this goal beginning in 2019, the first few years worth of data have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As the full annual report states: “In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, starting in March of the 2019-2020 school year and continuing through the 2020-2021 school year, public school units across the state employed unprecedented methods to ensure continued student learning by utilizing various modes of instruction and student outreach. As such, caution should be taken when comparing data reported for the 2019-2020 and 2020-2021 school years to data reported for prior and subsequent years.”

Still, myFutureNC recommends action based on the data available. The “Needs Forecast” items listed in their Report overview include “One in every nine 16-to-24-year-olds are not in school or working,” “An average of 9500 students drop out of high school each year,” and “Almost half of North Carolinians do not earn a family sustaining wage.” To mitigate these concerns, myFutureNC has suggested career planning for K-12 students, raising the dropout age from 16 to 18, and increasing access to scholarships for short-term training and higher wage careers. Details of these recommendations are included in the full report.

Two of these recommendations coincide with the two legislative proposals that myFutureNC described in the Feb. 6 press release as:

  • Career Planning for Every Middle and High School Student – The Department of Public Instruction’s and the State Board of Education’s call for career planning for every middle and high school student will position students better to explore educational and career opportunities years before graduation. The legislative proposal requires an individualized career plan in place for each middle and high school student.
  • R.A.I.S.E. Scholarships – R.A.I.S.E. Scholarships which stands for Reinforcement and Investment to Strengthen the Economy will extend the state’s existing support for no-cost pathways to short-term industry-valued credentials. This will encourage more North Carolinians to enroll in programs that connect them to career opportunities in high-growth and/or high-demand fields that pay higher wages.

These proposals were put forth by Cecilia Holden, President and CEO of myFutureNC. During the State of Educational Attainment in North Carolina event on Feb. 6, Holden stated that “North Carolina is blessed with a booming economy, yet we still have too many adults that lack the training and skills needed.” She went on to say, “We are thrilled that many sectors are coming together today to help us accelerate our progress toward our statewide goal of ensuring two million North Carolinians further their education after high school. This statewide challenge cannot be solved by one group or person. It will take all of us working together.”

Lynn Good, CEO of Duke Energy and Vice-Chair of myFutureNC, also spoke at the event, saying “It’s going to take every sector of our society – educators, government leaders, faith-based communities, nonprofit organizations and the greater business community – working together to ensure every K-12 student and every North Carolina adult is ready to meet this important workforce goal,” and “Achieving the goal is not only vital to our business community and the state’s continued economic growth – but most importantly – to ensure better social, economic and civic outcomes for our citizens and communities.”

Categories: featured, News


1 reply


  1. The State Of Educational Success In North Carolina – THE CAROLINIAN

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