“Know Before You Go” measure advances with unanimous support from workforce panel

 

Bill provides consumer-friendly data on college graduates’ earnings, employment rates 

AUGUSTA – Students and their families would have more information as they make higher education decisions under a bill that is advancing in the Legislature after winning the unanimous support of the Joint Select Committee on Maine’s Workforce and Economic Future on Monday.

LD 1746, the “Know Before You Go” bill, sponsored by House Majority Leader Seth Berry of Bowdoinham, would provide consumer-friendly information on the Internet about employment and earnings outcomes for graduates of Maine colleges and universities. The aggregate information would provide a window onto how graduates fare by major and institution at various time intervals after they complete their degrees.

“There’s plenty of information about the things going into a college education – the courses, the campus amenities and the extracurricular activities, just to name a few. But there’s virtually no information about educational output,” said Berry, House chair of the workforce committee. “Before making one of the biggest investments of their lives, students should have the answers to questions like, ‘How likely am I to find a job in my field?’ and ‘Will I make enough to support myself?’”

The bill has the support of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, Jobs for the Future, an education and workforce development organization, the Legislature’s bipartisan Youth Caucus, the University of Maine System, the Maine Community College System, Maine Maritime Academy and the Maine Independent Colleges Association. The state Department of Education and Department of Labor also support the bill.

“This bill is a good first step towards reducing uncertainty and increasing access to a college education,” said Senator Linda Valentino of Saco, the Senate Chair of the committee.

The bill would also inform policymakers as they assess higher education needs and trends in the state’s job market.

Increasingly, states across the country are providing similar higher education outcomes data to the public.  For example, the nonprofit CollegeMeasures.org has created websites for a number of states, listing graduates’ average incomes and employment rates.

As amended, the bill would create a task force of 15 members to develop procedures around the maintenance and dissemination of the data, which is already held by the state Department of Labor and Department of Education. There is no fiscal note on the bill.

The bill goes next to the House floor.