North Carolina's public education institutions must improve the pipeline from ninth grade through postsecondary graduation to meet future workforce needs. That's according to a new report from Carolina Demography and the John M. Belk Endowment.
Less than half of North Carolina adults ages 25 to 64 have a postsecondary degree, according to the study's findings. The report outlines how this rate must rise "to meet the projected demands for an educated and highly skilled workforce."
Titled the Leaky Pipeline Report, researchers analyzed where students step away from their education. Although there are leakages everywhere, Carolina Demography director Rebecca Tippett said the biggest spill out comes directly after high school. Many high school students say they want to go to college, yet only a fraction ultimately earn a postsecondary degree.
"North Carolina has made strides in public education, but if the state wants to move educational attainment forward even further, there are gaps that need to be addressed," said Tippett. "Our report identifies the gaps, and we know that those gaps will only widen if interventions aren't put in place."
The report also found wide racial divides, both in urban and rural areas.
The report doesn't make any specific policy recommendations. Tippett said any interventions would need to be tailored to local school districts and that future research could shed more light on what's best for schools.