States, for their part, should expand efforts to target adults without degrees and steer them toward careers in high-demand fields, as Tennessee’s Reconnect initiative has done. Colleges should be offered incentives to promote evidence-based programs similar to the City University of New York’s ASAP, which has raised graduation rates by providing students with free tutoring, career counseling, transportation subsidies and other assistance. Federal grants can be used to promote closer partnerships between colleges, local industry and labor unions, so that students enroll in programs specifically designed to prepare them for available jobs.

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