GOAL ONE: Raise the aspirations of all Berkshire County residents to view 16 years of education, or greater, as the accepted educational norm. We found that far too many county residents believe the attainment of a high school diploma to be their ultimate educational goal. Aspirations must change and be elevated. To achieve this goal we must:
- change the culture that accepts a high school degree as the educational end-point;
- structure the K-12 educational experience so that more students aspire to higher education and more students are better prepared to make the transition to higher education; and
- provide students with more opportunities to understand that a solid educational foundation pays dividends in the world of work.
GOAL TWO: Improve access to education, training and lifelong learning. We found that there are many barriers-both real and perceived-to accessing education and training programs; among those barriers are transportation and childcare, cost and convenience, government/programmatic rules and regulations, as well as relevance to professional advancement or personal growth. We can begin to dismantle these barriers by:
- providing all residents with increased opportunities to attend college through the development of a Passport to College;
- developing innovative ways to reach residents;
- allowing all residents to have greater access across the educational landscape in Berkshire County; and
- developing a targeted campaign with employers focused on working adults who have little or no higher education experience.
GOAL THREE: Develop a new "social contract" among employers, employees, and educational institutions that encourages and promote learning, earning and civic engagement. As the demographics across the county continue to change, the number one concern expressed by employers is access to a well-prepared, well-educated, innovative workforce. Berkshire County needs to think innovatively and boldly about integrating training and educational opportunities to meet the needs of employers and employees, including:
- increasing the pool of potential workers,
- increasing the skill levels and preparedness of the existing workforce, and
- promoting continuous learning, helping to match educational programs with changing/emerging employment needs.