While delegates and senators consider the G3 program, there are indications outside Capital Square that now is the time for Virginia to move forward and expand affordable pathways to high-demand and high-value jobs for low- and middle-income individuals.
First, G3 opportunities might be just what we need to attract Virginia’s “Disconnected Youth,” who fear amassing debt.
More than 100,000 Virginia youth between the ages of 16 and 24 are neither attending school nor working, according to the Weldon Cooper Center at UVa. That’s one in ten Virginians in that age group.
They’re called “Disconnected Youth,” and G3 could offer them a path to engage more productively.
Meanwhile, national reports are highlighting millennials’ reluctance to take on debt: “It’s so stressful, in fact, that a survey of 1,000 Millennials conducted by YPulse showed that Millennials’ number one life goal is not to get into a fulfilling relationship, build the career of their dreams, or start a family. No. Millennials’ top life goal is… to be debt-free.”
Further, a new Georgetown University study says associate degree and credential training programs should get greater consideration because they account for half of all students enrolled in higher education today, “And these students are more diverse by race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and age than those in bachelor’s degree programs. Overall, Black, Latino, low-income, and older students are more likely to be enrolled in certificate or associate’s degree programs than in bachelor’s degree programs.” The report goes on to make policy recommendations including, “Build student pathways from certificate programs to associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs.”
Last, but by no means least, Virginians support expanded access to higher education, according to a recent VCU public opinion poll. Some 63% of Virginians strongly or somewhat favor “A policy to provide tuition free community college education to Virginians.”
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