School is starting this week for many Georgia children but education ended much too soon for many of the state’s adults. Nearly 866,000 Georgians from 18 to 64 are without a high school diploma or GED. Georgia is home to the ninth highest share of adults in this age range in the country without a high school diploma or its equivalent. The state’s adult education programs served only about 60,600 adults in 2014.
A new Georgia Budget and Policy Institute report describes Georgia’s adult education challenges and successes. The report also recommends ways for the state to educate more of its adults. It specifically finds:
- The primary providers of adult education in Georgia are the Technical College System of Georgia Office of Adult Education and the Department of Corrections. The technical college system channels money to 32 grantees, which include Georgia’s 23 technical colleges.
- Thirty-six states spend more than Georgia on adult education per adult without a high school diploma or GED.
- Funding for one of the most promising educational initiatives for adults in Georgia, Accelerating Opportunity, expired on June 30, 2015.
- Federal and state governments, as well as private foundations, finance best-practice adult education programs.
- New federal workforce legislation provides opportunities to shift funding to support adults without a high school diploma or GED.
Adult education is critically important as Georgia’s leaders recognize that its citizens must be more educated for the state to compete in a national and global economy that demands more high-skilled workers. Gov. Nathan Deal’s launch of the Complete College Georgia initiative in August 2011 reaffirms the importance of postsecondary education to the state’s competitiveness. Georgia will need 250,000 additional graduates with a certificate, associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or higher to meet its workforce needs by 2020, according to the initiative.
Transforming more adults into college graduates is an important step in Georgia’s plan to meet this goal. Nearly 14 percent of Georgia’s adults ages 18 to 64 must secure a high school diploma or a GED, before they can qualify for college admission and help the state meet its higher education goal.
Georgia must seize the opportunity to strengthen its workforce by investing more in adult education. For the state to succeed every Georgian must have the opportunity to realize their potential. Adult education is crucial to this opportunity for many in the state.