Article 9.

Postsecondary Education Credentials.

115D-105. (Expires June 30, 2019) Board of Postsecondary Education Credentials.

(a) Findings. - The General Assembly finds that, in today's economy, opportunities for North Carolina's citizens to reach the middle class with a high school level education or even less have significantly decreased. To be competitive and obtain better paying jobs that lead to a better quality of life in the State's current and future economy, most citizens will need some type of postsecondary education that qualifies them for employment. The General Assembly recognizes the importance of bringing together potential employers and providers of postsecondary education for the purpose of identifying workforce skills and training needs and developing courses of study and vocational training that meet the standards expected and required by industries, corporations, and other employers. The General Assembly further finds that the establishment of a permanent board with members who are knowledgeable about postsecondary education and workforce training needs will enable providers of postsecondary education to prepare and design training programs that are responsive to workforce needs and that will assist the State's citizens in securing the credentials required to obtain better paying jobs.

The General Assembly recognizes that postsecondary education opportunities should be easily available and accessible to all citizens. Therefore, the General Assembly encourages State educators, when designing the method and manner for delivering postsecondary educational programs, to take into account the varying income levels and economic circumstances of the State's citizens, transportation needs, and other unique challenges in both urban and rural areas of the State that affect accessibility to postsecondary education opportunities and to make genuine efforts to accommodate and address those factors.

The General Assembly also finds that most employers consider postsecondary credentials such as academic degrees and high-quality, nondegree certifications awarded by institutions of higher education when determining whether a person has the expertise and skills required for a job. However, high-quality credentials may also be obtained through other alternative models such as open-source online programs, on-the-job training, and military experience. Therefore, it is essential that a system also be devised in which the meaning and validity of postsecondary credentials is clear and understandable to educators, employers, and students and that accurately conveys the knowledge, skills, and training obtained by an individual however and wherever it is obtained.

(b) Board Established. - There is established the Board of Postsecondary Education Credentials to be located administratively under the Community Colleges System Office; however, the Board shall exercise all its prescribed powers independently of the Community Colleges System Office. The Board shall consist of the following members:

(1) The Lieutenant Governor.

(2) The President of The University of North Carolina or the President's designee.

(3) The President of the North Carolina Community College System or the President's designee.

(4) The Superintendent of Public Instruction or the Superintendent's designee.

(5) The Commissioner of Labor or the Commissioner's designee.

(6) The Secretary of Commerce or the Secretary's designee.

(7) The President of North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities or the President's designee.

(8) The Executive Director of the Office of Proprietary Schools or the Executive Director's designee.

(9) The President of the North Carolina Hospital Association or the President's designee.

(10) The Executive Director of the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority or the Executive Director's designee.

(c) Purpose. - The purpose of the Board is to review and make recommendations for the development of a statewide system of postsecondary education that links industry, corporations, and businesses in this State with educators, government, and community organizations to identify workforce skills and training needs and to ensure that appropriate courses of study and vocational training are available to North Carolinians, including those preparing to pursue postsecondary education, entering the workforce, or seeking to update skills and training for purposes of retaining employment and advancing in the workforce.

In addition, the Board shall identify alternative ways in which people gain valuable workforce skills and experience, such as on-the-job training, that are not represented by four-year or two-year degrees and the types of credentials used to signify competence of a certain level upon successful completion of the alternative training experience. The Board shall review and make recommendations on those criteria to be used to determine the value of a nondegree credential, the competencies that it represents, and how it should be compared and valued with regard to other types of postsecondary credentials.

(d) Duties. - The duties of the Board include the following:

(1) Recommend State goals and a framework for achieving those goals among educators to ensure that, by 2025, the appropriate percentage, as recommended by the Board, of the State's adult citizens will hold degrees, certificates, or other high-quality postsecondary credentials. The Board shall recommend a division of responsibility among The University of North Carolina System, the State's Community College System, and any other providers of postsecondary education credentials for achieving the goals recommended by the Board. The Board shall periodically review the progress made toward the recommended goals, evaluate the strategies developed and used toward attaining those goals, and may make additional recommendations.

(2) Identify the credentials that are acceptable for meeting those recommended goals and recommend how the responsibility for providing the courses of study and training for those credentials should be assigned among the State's educators and others. In making these recommendations, consideration shall be given to the fact that the individuals who need these courses of study and training are of various economic levels and are also located in rural areas and metropolitan areas across the State. These factors shall be taken into account with regard to the location and delivery of the courses of study and training programs.

(3) Address the issue of postsecondary credentials, the various levels of skill and knowledge those credentials signify, and how to accurately convey that information to employers, students and trainees, and providers of postsecondary education. The Board shall consider procedures and methods for recognizing skills and training needed in the workforce that an individual may have obtained through military experience, through on-the-job and employee-proved training, or through other life experiences.

(e) Chair. - The Lieutenant Governor shall serve as Chair of the Board.

(f) Hire Staff and Consultants. - To the extent of funds available, the Chair of the Board may, with the approval of the Board, hire staff or consultants to assist the Board in carrying out its purpose and duties.

(g) Travel and Subsistence. - Members, staff, and consultants of the Board shall receive travel and subsistence expenses in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 138-5 or G.S. 138-6, as appropriate.

(h) Meeting Space. - With the approval of the Legislative Services Commission, space in the Legislative Building and the Legislative Office Building may be made available to the Board.

(i) Frequency of Meetings and Quorum. - The Board shall meet upon the call of the Chair and shall have its first meeting no later than October 1, 2017. The Board shall meet at least quarterly. A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

(j) Reporting Requirement. - The Board shall submit to the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee an initial report no later than March 1, 2018, regarding the goals recommended by the Board pursuant to this section and the progress made toward meeting those goals. The Board shall submit a progress report to the Committee no later than March 1, 2019, regarding the progress made toward meeting the goals. The reports shall include any recommendations by the Board regarding legislation needed to implement this section. (2017-57, s. 9.11(a).)