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March 08, 2024

MDHEWD announces plan for assisting adult learners without a postsecondary credential or degree

The Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development (MDHEWD), along with Education Strategy Group (ESG) and Missouri College & Career Attainment Network (MOCAN), has released an adult learner strategic framework that aims to help 150,000 adult learners earn credentials that prepare them for the Missouri workforce.

The department was created to ensure all Missourians have opportunities for good jobs and careers and has set a goal that 60 percent of working-aged Missourians have earned a postsecondary credential and 70 percent are participating in the labor force. With the integration of our workforce development and higher education agencies, we are well-positioned to think differently about reaching and supporting adults.

The adult learner strategic framework “60 for All” offers innovative solutions that leverage our state’s assets — such as our Fast Track financial aid program targeting high-demand credentials and our department’s 23 job centers across the state — to help us reach these statewide goals. The tactics outlined in the plan will help Missouri ensure more adults have access to the array of pathways across our state, including apprenticeships, certificates, and two- and four-year degrees.

“MDHEWD is eager to implement this plan with our statewide Adult Learner Network and other partners as we leverage our resources and guide adult learners toward success,” said Dr. Bennett Boggs, Commissioner of MDHEWD. “The practical and actionable strategies in this framework prioritize helping adult learners further their education and training, which will strengthen Missouri’s workforce and economy.”

"Missouri's commitment to meeting its 60 percent higher education attainment goal through a strategic focus on engaging adult learners will yield tremendous benefits to both Missourians and the state economy,” said Matt Gandal, ESG President and CEO. “By leveraging several existing initiatives and drawing on best practices from across the country — including recognizing prior learning and strategically combining federal funding streams to support adult learners — Missouri has built a clear roadmap that other states can look to as they seek to strengthen their workforces and support more equitable opportunity."

This framework lays out numerous short-term, medium-term, and long-term tactics designed to expand state and federal resources, reform policies that create barriers for certain populations, and create education and workforce training programs that meet the needs of adult learners.

“Missouri can only reach its attainment goal through collaborative efforts to help Black, Hispanic, and rural Missouri adults earn a postsecondary credential,” said Laura Winter, Executive Director of MOCAN.

The report was made possible through support from Lumina Foundation and Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation.

“Lumina has long recognized the need to support adult learners’ access to quality credentials leading to well-paying jobs. Without ensuring more opportunities for adults to gain skills and credentials, we will fall short of our attainment and workforce goals,” said Michelle Asha Cooper, Lumina Vice President for Public Policy. “The new Missouri Adult Learner Strategic Plan provides creative and tactical solutions, and we look forward to following the progress as the “Show Me” state executes the plan.”

“Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation is proud to support this important work,” said Melissa Findley, Executive Director at Missouri Scholarship & Loan Foundation. “We are excited for MDHEWD and its collaborative partners to implement this plan aimed at reducing barriers and helping more Missourians reach their goals.”

“Sixty for All: A Roadmap to Equitable Postsecondary Attainment for Adult Missourians” is available on the MDHEWD website.