Recognizing that higher education, including community colleges, four-year colleges, and research universities, cannot help drive economic growth in their states unless students' academic success is linked to the needs of the marketplace, governors and state policymakers are beginning to move beyond their focus on getting more students to get "degrees" to asking: "Degrees for what jobs?"

Governors and state policymakers in Minnesota, North Carolina, Ohio, and Washington have undertaken bold, comprehensive strategies to align postsecondary education with the state's economic goals. In the context of their overall strategies, discussed in this report, these pioneering states have taken the following steps to strengthen universities and colleges as agents of workforce preparation and sources of more opportunity, more growth, and more competitive advantage:

  • Set clear expectations for higher education's role in
  • economic development;
  • Emphasize rigorous use of labor market data and other
  • sources to define goals and priorities;
  • Encourage employers' input in higher education;
  • Require public higher education institutions to collect and
  • publicly report impacts; and
  • Emphasize performance as an essential factor in funding.