Higher Ed Committees Meet

It is day 10 of the 2013 legislative session and the legislature is hard at work informing itself on what has been happening over the interim. Importantly, both the senate and house higher education committees have been meeting to discuss a range of topics relevant to the sector.

House Higher Education

Yesterday, Tuesday, the House Higher Education committee convened at 8am to cover emerging “industry” needs statewide. Specifically, the committee invited two panels to present: aerospace and software. Representatives from the Washington Aerospace and Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Workforce Pipeline Advisory Committee were on hand to present the opportunities and challenges that face the aerospace industry. These include a booming market where companies such as Boeing hired over 13,000 people since February 2011. With demand outpacing the number of graduates qualified to meet that demand, the advisory committee provided several recommendations. These included:

  • New Aerospace Student Slots (500 FTE)
  • Credentials and Certifications – Testing to measure worker readiness to meet employer hiring standards ($300,000)
  • Professional Development of Faculty – Improving faculty experience with aerospace needs ($768,000)
  • Establish a “talent pipeline” from K-12 to the CTC system ($300,000)
  • Marketing to Industry/Center for Excellence – Providing an pathway from secondary school to a career ($200,000)
  • Expand the training infrastructure in King/Pierce counties ($10 million)

Following the aerospace panel representatives from the software sector provided the committee with an overview of the emerging needs of their industry. Specifically, representatives from the University of Washington outlined why emerging Technology-based industries are at the forefront of Washington’s economy and account for the largest share of employment, business activity, and labor income of any sector in the state’s economic base. In fact, the software industry has an even greater demand than aerospace.

Regardless of what industry is in greatest demand, it is clear these two will be leaders in many of the legislative discussions this session and how Washington’s higher education system, including Evergreen, might continue to respond to their demands.

Senate Higher Education

Later in the afternoon the Senate Higher Education Committee met to discuss “performance, planning and outcomes.” Among those presenting was Paul Francis of the Council of President’s and Melissa Beard of the Office of Financial Management (OFM) to talk about the newly launched higher education dashboard. The dashboard is the result of a collaborative partnership between OFM and the six public universities and colleges to create a centralized dashboard that displays a number of accountability measures, such as, graduation rates and the time it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree for each institution statewide. This partnership came about, in part, due to 2010 initiative of the National Governor’s Association, chaired by former WA Governor Christine Gregoire. Out of this initiative came 10 recommendations regarding outcome and progress metrics that state should be collecting. These metrics could then be used to increase college completion while improving higher education productivity. The dashboard is the realization of this goal.

Following Francis and Beard the committee heard presentations from The State Board for Community & Technical Colleges on their student achievement initiative, an overview of performance based funding, and a presentation by Brian Baird, new chairman of the Washington Student Achievement Council.