The Need

Enrollment in higher education following high school places students on track for stable careers and self-sufficient wages.  Completion of a higher education credential increases lifetime earning potential. According to the, In addition to higher income and reduced likelihood of poverty, completion of postsecondary ​education has also been linked to better health and increased civic participation.

By 2018, it’s estimated 25,000 new jobs will be created in our region, yet local high schools and IHEs are currently unable to meet this anticipated workforce demand. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce and Charleston Regional Development Alliance have identified skills gaps in high wage and key growth industries. T o complete the continuum, we must ‘connect the dots’ between the number of degrees and certificates awarded by local IHEs, the skills these credentials require, and the talent shortage facing our workforce.

Based on projected employment growth, particularly in
five key areas, there will be a workforce talent gap by 2018.

Talent Gap

The Data
For Every 100 Students in the Class of 2009


2-of-3 are not college ready
(11th grade ACT)

Key Factors
  • 104,000+ adults 25-64 have completed some college but not a degree
  • Barriers to college are high for undocumented students who have attended public schools and earned high school diplomas in our region. South Carolina not only prohibits state-funded tuition assistance and in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants, state law bans undocumented students from attending any state colleges or technical school.
What We’re Doing

The presidents of nine public and private colleges and universities have agreed to form a collaborative Postsecondary Consortium (PSEC) focused on increasing the number of individuals with degrees or certificates in the Lowcountry. PSEC includes Charleston Southern University, The Citadel, Claflin University, Clemson University, the College of Charleston, Medical University of South Carolina, South Carolina State University, Trident Technical College, and the University of South Carolina.  The primary goals for PSEC are:

  • Improving the alignment of current degree programs with projected workforce requirements which estimate the addition of 25,000 new jobs by 2018, many in STEM related fields;
  • Encouraging degree completion by the more than 107,000 residents aged 25 or older who have completed some college work but have yet to complete a degree;
    • An Adult Learners Project Team was formed to work on ways to attract adults back to school to complete their 2- or 4-year degrees.
  • Closing the gap in enrollment and completion rates between students groups, including the 24% point gap between Blacks (22.3%) and Whites (47.1%) and the growing gap between Whites and Hispanics (28.0%).​​​
    • In an effort to understand barriers facing students from college admission to completion, PSEC inventoried programs intended to support low-income, first generation and other student cohorts.

A joint initiative of PSEC and the High School Graduation Network, Math Pathways is a group of educators and senior administrators from five universities and four public school districts serving Lowcountry students focused on aligning the preparation of high school graduates with the expectations of postsecondary institutions.


Graduates Enrolled in a 2- or 4-year IHE in the Fall

College graduates earn an average of $855,000 more over their lifetimes than high school graduates.

Brookings Institution Hamilton Project


Adults 25-64 Hold an Associate’s Degree or Higher