Pennsylvania Business Leader Backs Higher Education Blueprint: A Path to Prosperity

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HARRISBURG, PA — In a recent op-ed, Bill Gindlesperger, a prominent Pennsylvania business owner and higher education advocate, voiced strong support for Governor Josh Shapiro’s higher education blueprint. Gindlesperger, who serves as a Shippensburg University Trustee, a PASSHE Board of Governors member, and Chairman of eLynxx Solution, outlined the critical workforce needs that Governor Shapiro’s plan aims to address.

The blueprint proposes a substantial investment of $975 million into Pennsylvania’s community colleges and PASSHE universities, marking a 15 percent increase from last year’s funding. This initiative seeks to make postsecondary education more affordable, ensuring that students from families earning up to the median income pay no more than $1,000 per semester in tuition and fees. The plan also aims to produce nearly 50,000 additional credentials by 2032.

Gindlesperger highlighted the pressing demand for workers with education beyond high school across various employment sectors. “Jobs requiring education beyond high school cut across many employment sectors,” he wrote. He pointed out that analysis on Pennsylvania’s Blueprint for Higher Education website reveals a widespread need for employees with specialized skills and education.

In some regions, the gap between available jobs and qualified workers is stark. “In some areas, the number of people who have earned an education beyond high school is about half of what is needed to fill available jobs,” Gindlesperger noted. Without significant changes, Pennsylvania could face a shortfall of approximately a quarter million unfilled jobs.

The rising cost of higher education has historically been ignored, creating a major barrier for many aspiring students. Gindlesperger emphasized that many individuals cannot afford the cost of advanced education, leading to substantial student debt. “Pennsylvania students graduate from programs after high school with an average of $40,000 in debt,” he stated, adding that such financial burdens make it challenging to start a career.

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Moreover, the debt load affects graduation rates, with only half of the students enrolled in four-year institutions graduating on time. This situation is exacerbated in parts of the state where access to necessary coursework for higher-skilled and better-paying jobs is limited.

The consequences of this educational and economic disparity are far-reaching. As tuition costs soar and student debt rises, the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in college has significantly decreased. Concurrently, the demand for better-paying jobs requiring higher levels of education continues to rise.

“This is not a recipe for a prosperous Pennsylvania,” Gindlesperger warned. He praised Governor Shapiro’s blueprint as a practical approach to addressing these challenges. The proposed reforms aim to build a talented workforce with the credentials and skills needed for organizations to thrive and grow.

Gindlesperger believes that this investment will yield substantial benefits for both individuals and businesses across the commonwealth. “Healthy organizations seek a talented workforce with the credentials and skills needed to thrive and grow,” he wrote. By making education more accessible and affordable, the plan would not only retain businesses in Pennsylvania but also attract new ones.

Governor Shapiro’s focus on education represents a worthwhile investment, according to Gindlesperger. “I understand a worthwhile investment when I see it and recognize the value of Gov. Shapiro’s focus on education,” he concluded.

As Pennsylvania seeks to close the gap between job opportunities and qualified workers, Governor Shapiro’s higher education blueprint stands as a promising path toward a more prosperous future for all residents.

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