Forum Overview

The 2022 Emerging Issues Forum will bring together local, state and national leaders to call attention to North Carolina’s postsecondary educational attainment gap and to the impact of the pandemic on efforts to close it. Because education is fundamentally local in character, effective action must take place at the community and regional levels across the state. The event will explore what makes for effective collaboration while showcasing promising practices that help all students, but especially students in groups with historically lower attainment rates, to get ready for, gain access to and successfully complete postsecondary educational opportunities.


  • The impact of the pandemic on educational attainment in North Carolina
    • The pandemic is creating significant disruptions throughout the educational pipeline from K-12 through higher education. The Forum will examine the impacts the pandemic is having on educational attainment in our state and on progress in meeting our goal of 2 million North Carolinians with a high-quality credential or postsecondary degree by 2030. Particular attention will be paid to what we know about the pandemic’s impact on attainment by race/ethnicity, income and geography.
  • Strategies for closing our educational attainment gaps

    • As in other parts of the country, North Carolina has long standing educational attainment disparities spanning race/ethnicity, income and geography. We will call attention to the needs of learners in groups with historically lower attainment rates and identify strategies that better support postsecondary access and completion.

  • Moving forward, together

    • While our attainment goal is statewide, education is fundamentally local in action. The Forum will highlight the importance of effective collaboration and how to do it effectively, including the roles that local groups must play to increase attainment in their communities.

  • The imperative of employer engagement

    • Efforts to raise educational attainment rates must prioritize not only the needs of learners but also those of employers. On the one hand, students want careers tied to their own skills and interests and on the other, the related training and educational pathways must create graduates with the skills and knowledge that employers want. The Forum will shine a particular light on what employers need and, importantly, what they must contribute at the local and regional levels to strengthen educational attainment pipelines across the state.