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WASHINGTON state is not producing enough high-school or college graduates to fill about 25,000 job openings.

That’s called the “opportunity gap.” To close it, lawmakers should formally support the Washington Student Achievement Council’s Ten-Year Roadmap. This ambitious plan affirms the state’s commitment to achieve two worthy education goals by 2023:

• All adults aged 25 to 44 in Washington would have a high-school diploma or the equivalent.

• At least 70 percent of Washington adults would have a post-high-school credential.

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Those targets are embedded in House Bill 2626, which passed the state House in February by an overwhelming margin, 87-10. The
Senate Higher Education Committee held a hearing on the measure Thursday and voted unanimously to send it to the floor.

The Roadmap’s intent is too important to brush aside.

Remember why the Legislature created the Washington Student Achievement Council in the first place. The new panel replaced a weak and passive Higher Education Coordinating Board in 2012. Lawmakers ordered the council to come up with recommendations that would help the state overcome major challenges, including lack of access, lower graduation rates among people of color and employers’ demands for more skilled workers.

Two years later, the council has delivered clear objectives and a path forward.

State leaders should coalesce around those targets as they prepare for the 2015 session, which will require additional investments in higher education after years of budget cuts.

Today, only 89 percent of adults in the state have a high-school diploma. About half have a postsecondary credential. If those numbers don’t improve, more companies might need to hire foreign workers or move their operations.

Formal adoption of the Ten-Year Roadmap sends a powerful message that Washington is serious about fixing education and training its workforce to compete in a global economy.

Editorial board members are editorial page editor Kate Riley, Frank A. Blethen, Ryan Blethen, Sharon Pian Chan, Lance Dickie, Jonathan Martin, Thanh Tan, William K. Blethen (emeritus) and Robert C. Blethen (emeritus).

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