CHARLOTTE (Oct. 4, 2017) – In a wide-ranging discussion, North Carolina’s political and higher education leaders shared their thoughts last week on how we can educate more North Carolinians for the jobs of tomorrow – some of which haven’t been invented yet.

The “Aim Higher, Achieve More” forum at Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte was sponsored by the Higher Education Works Foundation with support from Bank of America.

Highlights included:

Gov. Roy Cooper discussed how CEOs ask him not about North Carolina’s corporate tax rate, but whether the state has a well-trained workforce to fill the jobs they create.  Cooper also called on the state’s business community to use its clout to support investments in education.

NC House Speaker Tim Moore said the state needs to invest more in pre-kindergarten and continue to improve pay for K-12 teachers, as well as university and community college faculty.

UNC President Margaret Spellings explained how the state needs to build more “on-ramps” to higher education for students who all too often confront a “crazy quilt” of programs and applications.

Acting NC Community College System President Jennifer Haygood said educators must be “connected at the hip” with industry to be sure they prepare students for jobs.  We also must expand the definition of college student to include working, nontraditional students and build supports for them to increase educational attainment levels, she said.

And Higher Education Works Co-Chair Paul Fulton wrapped up the evening by insisting that North Carolina sustain its historical support for public higher education – and for educators across the board.  “We’ve got to do a better job of paying the people that teach our kids,” Fulton said.

Other topics:

• Spellings and Moore both discussed their support for NC Promise, which will reduce tuition to $500 a semester at three state universities next year.

• In response to a question about increasing North Carolinians’ educational attainment, Haygood discussed how to get more students into the higher-ed pipeline.  Spellings emphasized that we must build expectations for every child in North Carolina to have a plan for higher education.

• Panelists discussed ways to reach more rural students.

• Haygood and Spellings noted that targeted aid such as “completion grants” can pay for car repairs, emergency babysitting or other “life happens” episodes and help students complete their studies.

View the entire event here:

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