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Sue Bush
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Berkshire Compact Report Unveiled

12:00AM / Tuesday, March 14, 2006

North Adams - The Berkshire Compact for Higher Education Committee released a report on March 13, which outlined the higher education and training needs of the residents and employers of Berkshire County as well as strategies to help address those needs.

The Compact, a group of committed civic, education and business leaders, met several times over the past 18 months to analyze data on the Berkshire economy and workforce, in addition to the educational, economic and demographic characteristics of the County. The group included the entire Berkshire Legislative Delegation as well as the Mayors of both Pittsfield and North Adams.

MCLA President Mary Grant expressed her appreciation to all of the Compact members for their participation.

"I would like to thank everyone for their thoughtful insight throughout this process," Grant said. "We had wonderful attendance by all of the members, who are extremely busy leaders in their fields. I would also like to offer my appreciation to the Berkshire state Legislative Delegation for helping to securing funding to make the Compact possible."

The Compact report conveys an overall mission of working toward every resident of Berkshire County attaining at least 16 years of education and training with four underlying goals.

Goals include:

*Raising the aspirations of all Berkshire County residents to view 16 years of education or greater, as the accepted norm.

*Improving access to education, training, and lifelong learning.

*Making Berkshire County a competitive location for the new technology and a knowledge-based economy; make Berkshire County residents among the most technologically educated population in New England.

*Develop a new "social contract" among employers, employees and educational institutions that encourages and promotes earning, learning, and civic management.

Throughout the process, it was determined that a highly-educated and skilled workforce is essential to a competitive regional economy. Other findings include the importance of higher education to an individual's economic success. It has been proven that with higher degrees earned people are more likely to earn higher salaries.

Overall the Compact underscored the importance of higher education, and particularly public higher education in Berkshire County. A core group of Compact members will continue to work to develop ways to help Berkshire County residents achieve the education and training that they need. If anyone would like to view the Compact report, it is available at www.mcla.edu which is the MCLA Internet web site.
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