The Vermont State College system is the lifeblood of many Vermont communities. To abandon it, as some have recently proposed, would be a huge mistake. But it would also be a mistake to think we could continue business as usual. As much as we value our state colleges, we cannot ignore economics.
The underlying economic problem — the reason our colleges are not providing the value they should — is that there is a disconnect between the programs being offered and the skills that Vermont businesses are telling us they actually need. This has resulted in one of the lowest college graduate retention rates in the country. Through no fault of their own, bright, young, new graduates cannot find fulfilling careers in Vermont, and they are forced to leave -- taking a lifetime of tax revenue with them. We currently subsidize this unsustainable exodus.
A change of thinking is needed. I propose a complete revitalization and modernization of our Vermont state colleges. The system can be transformed into world-class centers of excellence in the areas of Technology and Skilled Trades and other underserved sectors of our economy. This modernization can be funded entirely by partnering with the private sector.