In the United States, we are rightly concerned about the state and future of the American education system. We are laser focused on improving the pipeline from K-12 through to postsecondary completion. We want our children and our nation to compete in the 21st-century landscape. The future of any country is reflected by the efficacy of their education system. America is no different. We must center our innovation and entrepreneurship in the areas that will have the most impact.
In this article, we will concentrate on adult learners. The US has two key problems that need to be solved in order to improve our system and global standing – Cost and Accessibility. Wages have been stagnant for decades. The cost of higher education has steadily increased, outpacing inflation and wages. Accessibility has many facets, including cost. Some are simply underprepared by their local K-12 system, have not completed high school, transportation, internet access, family responsibilities, etc. Cost and accessibility must be addressed if we are to make an impact. This is a challenge and an opportunity.
Among adults (ages 25-64), 3 out of 5 have an educational attainment level below an Associate’s Degree. This 60% is 100 million strong. That is nearly a third of the nation. Black, Hispanic and Native Americans are overrepresented in this grouping. This is where our efforts will have the most impact. This segment of American society has a wealth of life experience ready to be leveraged by business and government. There is most assuredly untapped potential that could change the direction of the nation, perhaps the world.
This is not meant to be dramatic. It is intended to be a clarion call for the creative and diligent among us. Everyone has something to offer. The underemployed and unemployed have skill sets that can be used on this journey. Sweat-equity arrangements in startup ventures and nonprofits are underrated. We must explore every method to get ideas to market. Do your Entrepreneur Homework!