You won’t find 70x2025vt on a “Math is Fun” multiplication table, but you will find it on the worktables of the Gov. Phil Scott administration and the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.
The bold, new education and workforce development program spearheaded by Vermont’s governor and VSAC, along with a group of leaders from the education and business community, has a goal of arming 70 percent of Vermont’s population with either trade or higher education credentials by the year 2025.
Scott’s 70x2025vt is ambitious, but is it doable?
Vermont is sometimes tainted as a high-tax state where wealthy trustfunders live lushly surrounded by pastoral acres and well-groomed ski trails, where family dairy farms are in decline, where untrained handymen barely get by on seasonal jobs, and college-degreed youth flee to find professional work. Hence, there’s more than enough work to do in order to meet the goals of 70x2025vt.
“As part of my ‘cradle to career’ focus on education and training, we owe it to Vermonters to provide the pathways necessary to develop the skills to be successful at work, at home and in the community,” Scott said at a 70x2025vt fall event at PC Construction in South Burlington. “(Our) 70×2025 is a big goal, but one I believe that we can reach by working together and using Vermont’s power of cooperation, collective wisdom and action. My administration is, and will be, fully engaged in this effort.”
According to Scott, construction, trades and allied-health occupations are the employment sectors looking for skilled Vermonters immediately.
Scott has cited research from Georgetown University indicating that seven in 10 of the high-pay, high-demand jobs in the decade of the 2020s will require some level of education and training after high school.
According to Scott Giles, president and CEO of VSAC, where the Governor’s 70x2025vt effort resides, Vermont must drastically upgrade the skills of the population to not only compete regionally and nationally, but globally as well.
“A high school diploma just isn’t enough anymore,” Giles said. “Our attention must be on helping all Vermonters take the steps to better careers and opportunities for themselves and Vermont. And we know the benefits to Vermont are more than just economic — more education and training leads to more active civic engagement in our local communities.”
The 70x2025vt mission statement illustrates the daunting challenges needed in order to meet the 2025 deadline:
- Identify and eliminate barriers to postsecondary access and success for youth and adults.
- Strengthen pathways between education and employment.
- Change the narrative to ensure public recognition of postsecondary education and college and career readiness as a shared value.
- Align state policy with the 70×2025 goal.
Just a tad over a month old, 70x2025vt is already out of the gate and on track, at least according to the Scott administration.
“To achieve the Advance Vermont goal, we need to expand Vermont’s college-going culture among both high school students and working adults,” the 70x2025vt website reads. “This will include eliminating current gender and socioeconomic gaps among aspirations to, readiness for, and successful enrollment in, some form of education after high school.”
The devil is in the details and 70x2025vt is backed up by a council of 25 well-respected leaders from around Vermont including employers, educators, civic groups, lawmakers and Scott cabinet members. In addition to the experts, the Scott initiative has received significant support from major statewide education and business organizations.
One such partner is PC Construction, a multi-million dollar commercial and industrial design and building firm founded by Angelo G. Pizzagalli in 1958. The firm is employee-owned, with over 1,000 employee-owners working on jobs from Maine to Florida.
“Like many Vermont employers, PC Construction is hiring for well-paying jobs and we are on the hunt to find the skilled workers to fill them,” said Jay Fayette, PC’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “As a lifelong Vermonter and graduate of Vermont Technical College, I believe in the excellent schools and training programs our state has to offer. For me, and PC Construction, joining in the 70x2025vt initiative is a no-brainer to make sure that Vermont is developing a talent pool that can meet the demands of our state and global economy.”
Another 70x2025vt partner is the city of St. Albans. Mayor Liz Gamache signed on early to help the Scott administration achieve the goal. She believes the mission will not only help her city but all communities in the Green Mountain State.
“We’re all in this together,” Gamache said. “The state of Vermont succeeds when its towns and cities do. I can tell you my top goal as mayor is to see that our community members have opportunity and that our businesses thrive. It’s spectacularly important to the success of St. Albans.”
Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.