Cyrus Habib
Former Lieutenant Governor | Washington

Complete Washington

Idea Category: Education


Today's economy favors those with college degrees and has been unforgiving to those without. Of the 7.2 million jobs lost in the recession, nearly 80% required only a high school diploma. Conversely, 99% of the jobs created post-recession went to workers with a college education. Our best projections tell us the gap between workers' skills and employers' demands will grow.

In Washington, less than half of working adults hold a two- or four-year college degree, while almost 70% of our state's job openings in the next seven years will require a postsecondary credential. However, for many working adults, college is a long, expensive commitment incompatible with family needs, the constraints of an inflexible work schedule, and a tight budget.


Complete Washington programs are designed to address the barriers that most often prevent adults from returning to college: cost, scheduling issues, and uncertainty for career advancement. To limit out-of-pocket costs, Complete Washington pathways are designed to capture credit for prior learning, so students who return to school with knowledge gained on the job can bank their experiences toward their degrees. Unlike most online degree programs, Complete Washington courses are offered on a flexible schedule based on competencies gained, rather than time spent. We actively engage industry and labor with two- and four-year institutions in the degree design process to ensure that the program meets the needs of both workers and employers.