Tomorrow’s jobs increasingly demand a highly trained workforce. To meet projected demands, at least 60% of North Carolina workers will need a postsecondary degree or nondegree credential by 2030. Currently, 47% of North Carolina adults aged 25-64 have a postsecondary degree or credential. While this share is projected to rise to 56% by 2030 it will fall below projected needs.

Students currently in the state’s K-12 system represent the largest potential opportunity for North Carolina to move towards 60%. Improving the educational outcomes for disadvantaged students, especially those from Black, Hispanic, and American Indian backgrounds, is critical to building the state’s infrastructure of opportunity, promoting social mobility, and maintaining North Carolina’s economic growth.

Educational attainment is part of a decades-long process. It is the sum of educational experiences and exposures that begin at birth and continue well into adulthood. Overall pipeline completion—measured here as the timely completion of a postsecondary degree—is the cumulative result of success across multiple transition points in K-12 and postsecondary. Each transition point offers an opportunity for intervention to improve educational outcomes for individuals and North Carolina as a whole.

To make change, we must first understand the landscape of the state. Together, Carolina Demography and the John M. Belk Endowment developed a data-driven understanding of North Carolina’s educational pipeline and potential pathways to higher adult educational attainment.

Read the Report

North Carolina’s Leaky Educational Pipeline | Executive Summary
Download the data used in this report.