The lack of an available and prepared workforce in America adds unnecessary fuel to the fire of poverty that burns uncontrollably throughout our communities, and that leaders don’t seem to feel an urgency to extinguish. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Poverty in the United States: 2022 report, the supplemental poverty measure (SPM) rate in 2022 was 12.4 percent. This increase of 4.6 percentage points from 2021 represents the first increase in the overall SPM poverty rate since 2010. Furthermore, the SPM child poverty rate more than doubled, from 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022.

To address our children’s hunger and our communities’ poverty, our educational system must be redesigned to remove the boundaries between high school, college, and careers so that more Americans can train for and secure employment that will sustain them.

In 2021, Jobs for the Future outlined a pathway toward realizing such a revolution in The Big Blur report, which argues for a radical restructuring of education for grades 11 through 14 by erasing the arbitrary dividing line between high school and college. Ideas for accomplishing this include courses and work experiences for students designed for career preparation. Joel Vargas, contributing author to this report and JFF executive, spoke at length about his personal life story and reason for serving as an ambassador for educational redesign on my Discovering Your Mission podcast earlier this year. He said that, “We have to change the [educational] systems that students experience, because it is pretty obvious, our systems are designed to work against students as a whole.”

As a Policy Leadership Trust member of JFF, the Community College of Aurora (where I serve as president) has served as a national leader in the work to apply higher education to drive social and economic mobility in today’s society by aligning student learning outcomes directly with workforce needs. Such goals are achieved when the institution understands its responsibility in the fight to eliminate poverty and support equitable educational attainment by providing our students with key skills that are relevant and transferable throughout industries.

Read the full article about colleges and skill-based economy by Mordecai I. Brownlee at EdSurge.