Plan of Action: TSTC and THECB host regional 60x30TX workshop

BY Amanda Sotelo

Getting more young adults to graduate with a college certificate or degree was the common goal discussed during the South Texas Regional 60x30TX Workshop recently hosted by Texas State Technical College and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB).

“We spent 18 months developing this plan,” said Dr. David Gardner, deputy commissioner for Academic Planning and policy/chief academic officer for the THECB. “By 2020 all new jobs will require a college-level education and if we reach our goal we will be awarding 6.4 million certificates or degrees during the 15-year span of this plan.”

The 60x30TX initiative follows the previous statewide plan, Closing the Gaps by 2015, and sets forth four goals. The overarching goal states that by 2030, 60 percent of Texans ages 25-34 will hold a college certificate or degree.

The three other goals in this initiative include: completion, which sets a goal of at least 550,000 students in 2030 completing a certificate, associate, bachelor’s or master’s from a higher education institution in Texas; marketable skills emphasizing that each graduate will have identifiable skills needed for the workforce; and student debt, which focuses on undergraduate student loan debt not exceeding 60 percent of first-year wages.

While addressing a room packed with city officials, local school district representatives and higher education professionals, Gardner asked for help in pushing 60x30TX.

“We need your help. We all need to push forward aggressively with this plan,” he said. “We need you to advise us and in turn we need to make students aware of what’s available. We need to assist them and support them through higher education.”

Everyone in attendance participated in breakout sessions to brainstorm and discuss strategies on how to achieve the educational attainment and completion goals, and how to achieve the marketable skills and student debt goals of 60x30TX.

TSTC Provost Dr. Stella Garcia said there is a great alignment between the THECB 60x30TX plan and TSTC’s mission to place more Texans in great paying jobs.

“This 60x30TX plan focuses on making Texas globally and nationally competitive. It focuses on the economic and future prosperity of Texas,” said Garcia. “And the legislature created TSTC in 1965 so we could serve Texas business and industry, and for the economic and workforce development of the state.”

Garcia said to help achieve 60x30TX goals, TSTC will remain focused on student completion and filling the skill gaps.

“We will continue to work towards our mission and with our current program curriculum students will receive the marketable skills 60x30TX is working toward,” said Garcia. “We will simply continue to do what we do.”

This was the fifth in a series of 60X30TX forums being held across Texas. For more information on this new statewide initiative, go online at http://www.thecb.state.tx.us.