Complete Washington Initiative

In the shift to a knowledge-based economy, the bachelor’s degree has become increasingly critical to individual socio-economic mobility and to the economic health of the state. Washington’s current degree production rates do not meet economic demand, and puts individuals at a significant economic disadvantage.


  • Individuals who do not complete college are twice as likely to become unemployed as individuals with a bachelor’s degree, and will earn only half as much¹
  • 97% of the “good jobs” created since the Great Recession have been filled by those with bachelor’s degrees²


  • Washington state’s higher education system is not meeting the current or projected demand for highly educated workers, with the highest supply-demand gap between degree production and job requirements projected to be in the health care and computer science fields³
  • In computer science, employer demand currently exceeds degree production by 146%4


  • Only 44% of Washington state’s working-age adults hold a two- or four-year college degree5
  • The Washington Student Achievement Council in 2012 adopted the goal of increasing Washington’s adult postsecondary attainment to 70% by 2023, requiring an additional 500,000 adults to complete a postsecondary credential

The Lt. Governor’s office is developing a statewide initiative to re-engage some of Washington’s 300,000 adults who have attended a year or more of college, but have not completed a credential. Called Complete Washington, the initiative aims to:

  • reduce barriers to college re-entry and completion for adults, including affordability issues, geographic limitations, and family or career obligations
  • expand resources available to re-entering students, including online, workspace, and advising support services improve economic mobility and workforce readiness for a targeted population of Washington adults

The Lt. Governor’s office is looking to establish partnerships with higher education institutions, non-profit organizations, employers, and government agencies to build a scalable support system to support adults reentering postsecondary education. Western Governor’s University has agreed to be part of the solution as a partner in the initiative’s online academic delivery, and a member of a coalition of stakeholders committed to improving higher education in Washington.

1. New America Education Policy. Report: Beyond the Skills Gap.
2. Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce. Report: Good Jobs Are back.
3. Washington Student Achievement Council; Washington State; Workforce Training and Education Board; Community and Technical Colleges Board. Joint Report: A Skilled and Educated Workforce, 2013
4. Lumina Foundation Policy Brief: A Stronger Nation.
5. Washington Student Achievement Council. 2015 Roadmap Report: Measuring Our Progress.