Western Governors University and the National Governors Association Announce Strategic Partnership

Partnership Will Deliver Best Practices to States to Improve Attainment in Higher Education, Skills and Work

Western Governors University (WGU) and the National Governors Association (NGA) announced today a strategic partnership to address the future of work and education, building best practices in state policy that will result in greater access to higher education and economic prosperity for individuals and their communities. 

In 1997, a bipartisan group of 19 Governors concluded that their states’ educational systems were leaving many of their residents behind and vowed to leverage technology as the answer to expanding access to higher education — and nonprofit, online WGU was born. Now with 250,000 graduates and 120,000 enrolled students in all 50 states, WGU has demonstrated the power of its competency-based education model to provide flexibility for working learners and help close the disconnect between the demands of employers and higher education. Based on this impressive 25-year track record, NGA has partnered with WGU to develop modern best practices in state policy that fulfill higher education’s promise as the pathway to opportunity.

“For more than a century, our higher education system has evolved very little, even as the nature of work has shifted dramatically,” said WGU President Scott Pulsipher. “A system that was designed to serve learners well in the post-industrial area, today has resulted in widening gaps relative to work, and significant disparities in access and attainment. Our partnership with the NGA will help democratize education now and in the future, as we advance our focus on skills-based education to support individuals as they pursue opportunity and prosperity through their unique pathways.”

Over the course of the partnership, WGU and the NGA will focus their work on four initiatives to address and overcome the prevalent workforce and education issues states are facing, especially as states grapple with how to equitably rebuild their economies coming out of the pandemic.

  • Skills Ecosystem: WGU is supporting states to learn about, develop, and implement the newest workforce technologies through NGA’s State Strategies for Skills and Lifelong Learning Systems conference. This meeting marks the beginning of a portfolio of NGA postsecondary work focused on skills, reskilling/upskilling education pathways, credentialing, and lifelong learning. WGU will play a key partnership role in these efforts over the next year. Register for the free virtual convening: https://registration.socio.events/e/nga.
  • The Workforce Innovation Network (WIN), partially funded by WGU, will provide grants to select states to advance digital skill development for equitable economic participation in alignment with state workforce and economic development goals.
  • Broadband Access: The digital divide is a limiting factor to the development of the current workforce and a major contributor to inequities in access to opportunity. WGU and NGA will create best practices for states to advance policies to make broadband ubiquitous, affordable, and accessible so all people can participate in modern education and work.
  • NGA Chairman’s Initiative: WGU will support the NGA and Chairman Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas to promote best practices in education that include computer science as an imperative for the security of states and the country and as a path to thriving careers for individuals.

“As a nonprofit, online university founded to give all Americans access to affordable, high-quality college education, Western Governors University embodies the can-do spirit of America’s Governors,” said NGA Executive Director Bill McBride. “The National Governors Association is proud to be working alongside WGU on behalf of America’s Governors as they develop policies and best practices to close the digital skills gap and promote opportunities for all Americans to succeed.”

Through this partnership, WGU and NGA will promote and advance the future of higher education and work through the lens of equitable skill development, providing a path forward for individuals, states and the country to flourish in the digital era.