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Why Engaging More First Gen Students in Higher Education MattersWhy Engaging More First Gen Students in Higher Education Matters


In this special time of demagoguery and democratic politics, much is made of the need to sustain the nation’s competitiveness in an ever increasing global economy. But as most states know quite well, the competitiveness of any community rests primarily on the education and training of their workforce. And so goes the competitiveness, and eventually the continued success, of the United States.

Answering the broad question of how prepared is the nation’s workforce to compete is not easy. However, examining a few facts will be helpful. Firstly, data from the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workforce (CEW) estimates that by 2020 at least 65% of jobs will require post-secondary education. Secondly, estimates on how many individuals in their prime working age currently have a college education (i.e. an Associate’s degree or higher) ranges from 26% to 43%, which while varying widely (and a testament to how poor our labor readiness data is), still clearly indicates that we are well short of what future jobs require. Suggesting that we as a nation will not be in the optimum competitive position.


Ricardo Azziz, MD, MPH, MBA

A educator-scientist-executive with over 20 years of leadership experience in higher education, research, and healthcare, Dr. Azziz currently serves as Regents’ Professor, Augusta University; Senior Fellow, American Association of State Colleges & Universities; Visiting Scholar, Pullias Center for Higher Education, University of Southern California; and former founding CEO, Georgia Regents Health System.