3 U H Manoa graduates wearing lei

Hawaiʻi continues to make progress toward its goal of having 55 percent of working age adults (ages 25-64) with a two-or four-year college degree by the year 2025 to meet the state’s workforce needs of the future. The current percent of college degree holders in Hawaiʻi is 46.3 percent, up 1.4 percent from 2017.

The 55 by ’25 goal was set in 2008 by the Hawaiʻi P–20 Council, an advisory council representing leaders from education, business, labor, government and the community.

With six years remaining to reach 55 by ’25 Hawaiʻi P–20 recently launched a new dashboard, supported by the Lumina Foundation, to highlight leading indicators of success that are contributing to the state’s educational goal. Metrics are evidence-based, updated annually and predictive of a student’s future success in Hawaiʻi.

“We chose metrics that clearly communicate that meeting this end goal (55 by ’25) is not possible without the various stakeholders doing their part to achieve our interim measures,” says Stephen Schatz, Hawaiʻi P–20 executive director. “While we have a ways to go, this dashboard demonstrates real progress in Hawaiʻi.”

Progress is being made in multiple areas. Along with increases in high school graduation, college enrollment rates and degrees earned, more students graduating high school are enrolling directly into postsecondary education without the need for remediation. An increased number of freshmen are persisting from their first year in college to the next, and more underrepresented students, particularly Native Hawaiians, are enrolling in college and earning degrees.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” says University of Hawaiʻi President David Lassner. “Our 10 campuses are graduating more students faster and awarding more degrees than ever before. And our retention rates continue to improve. We see more opportunities in increasing the number of first-time freshmen who attend a UH campus and encouraging adults who have earned some college credits to return and complete their degrees. This doesn’t just happen by itself; these positive outcomes are a credit to people at the UH System and across our campuses deploying and using analytics to implement programs that make a difference for students.”

“Our progress in raising graduation rates and college enrollment over the last 10 years shows the great achievements possible through our partnerships with higher education,” said Department of Education Superintendent Christina Kishimoto. “We’ve expanded this effort to include public and private sectors to increase access to education opportunities for both traditional students and adults in need of retraining to meet changing marketplace demands. This statewide commitment from all sectors will be crucial to ensuring Hawaiʻi’s future economic growth and that of our citizen workforce.”

In order to increase economic opportunity and social mobility within the state, Hawaiʻi will not only have to maintain current rates of attainment, but also significantly increase the number of residents who enroll in postsecondary programs and earn all types of credentials beyond high school.

“Building the educational capital of the state is a critical need to meet our growing workforce demands,” says Sherry Menor-McNamara, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce Hawaiʻi. “We’re calling on our local businesses to get more involved in providing students with more quality work-based learning opportunities such as internships and apprenticeships and creating incentives for their employees to further their education as well.”

The Hawaiʻi P–20 Council has identified three areas of focus to help reach the 55 by ’25 goal including providing more internship opportunities for students, increasing the number of returning adults going back to college and gaining additional funding for UH’s Hawaiʻi Promise Program.

The Hawaiʻi P–20 dashboard can be viewed at www.55by25.org.