Current challenges in higher education:
Nationally, 86% of ninth grades from low-income households do not obtain a post-secondary degree. Among those low-income students who do matriculate in college, 13% of enrollees at 2-year schools obtain a degree, and 47% of enrollees at 4-year schools obtain a degree. The graph below illustrates these numbers on the national level:
In Massachusetts, 55% of low-income high school graduates enroll in college. Among those low-income students who matriculate, 26% of enrollees at 2-year schools obtain a degree, and 60% of enrollees at 4-year schools obtain a degree. The graph below illustrates these numbers in Massachusetts:
There are a number of common characteristics of traditional 2-year and 4-year college institutions that contribute to the low graduation rates for low-income students. These characteristics include the following:
- Cost. Traditional colleges are expensive to both students and governments. Those low-income students who are able to enroll in college frequently withdraw because they simply cannot afford to continue. Even students who receive financial aid are often required to pay for books, room and board, and other auxiliary costs that prove unmanageable.
- Student support. Low-income students typically require support and mentorship with a degree of intensity and individualization not offered by traditional colleges. The additional cost of such services can be prohibitive for traditional colleges.
- Flexibility. Low-income students often have jobs and life responsibilities that prohibit them from attending classes that are campus-based and time-bound. They frequently need to study on their own schedules and to coordinate their college, work, and family obligations in highly personalized and ever-changing ways.
- Relevance. Low-income students often find that traditional college classes lack relevance to their interests and career plans. Employers also too often report that graduates of traditional colleges are unprepared for the workplace.
Based upon their current rates of progress, 71% of Match Beyond students are on track to earn their Associate’s degrees. The average Associate’s degree completion rate among low-income students is 13% nationally and 34% in Massachusetts. If students continue to progress according to their current trajectories, we believe that our graduation rate among low-income young adults will be higher than that of any other Associate’s program in the United States. Nonetheless, we are early in our efforts and are continually refining our program to accelerate the pace at which students obtain their degrees.
CURRENT CHALLENGES IN the workforce:
That status quo is not serving the needs of either young people from low-income backgrounds or employers.
Nationally, 22% of young adults from low-income background who are not enrolled in school are unemployed, and only 53% of such individuals have a full-time job that provides benefits. Meanwhile, there are more than five million vacant jobs in America.
In the Greater Boston area, there are more than 20,000 unemployed black and Hispanic young people (16-24) within the civilian workforce. There are currently more than 134,000 job vacancies in Massachusetts.
At the managerial and executive levels, blacks and Hispanics are dramatically underrepresented in Boston. Blacks and Hispanics, who are 17% of the overall workforce, comprise 43% of service workers but only 8% of managers at hospitals, 4% of managers in the life sciences, and 5% of managers in the high tech sector.
Match Beyond aims to educate young people such that they are prepared to meet the workforce needs of the Commonwealth and the nation. In so doing, Match Beyond will reduce the unemployment rate among adults from low-income and minority backgrounds and will support companies in filling open positions with diverse talent.