Community and technical colleges are changing the face of education – and they are contributing to economic development in the most critical of ways as they increase their focus on technical education.
Politicians and lawmakers may take credit for bringing business to a state, but it is the community and technical colleges that make the businesses successful. These are the institutions cranking out skilled, highly trained workers for high-demand, high-paying jobs. And, nowhere is that more evident than in Texas.
Technical and community colleges in Texas are expanding as student population increases. The institutions are partnering with business and industry to fill workforce pipelines with graduates who have exactly the credentials that are required. The training, skills monitoring and innovative partnering that occurs at technical colleges in the state have not received the recognition that is deserved.
In Houston, San Jacinto College recently purchased more than 50 acres of land in a 4,000-acre mixed-use master planned enterprise park for the college’s fourth campus. The developer recognized the benefit a college would bring and donated nearly four acres for the school. Not only will students have access to educational offerings, but businesses will benefit as well. As the two work together and cultivate relationships, it will be a true win-win situation.
Blinn College recently announced it will construct a second campus on the west side of Bryan. The new campus expects to serve 10,000 to 15,000 students and is anticipated to be in use by 2017. As new campuses are created, job candidates create a high value proposition for businesses located in the area.
In Fort Bend County, Texas State Technical College (TSTC) will offer new higher education opportunities to residents of the Rosenberg, Richmond, Sugar Land and surrounding areas. The school will graduate job-ready, highly skilled and technically trained workers to benefit the entire region. This particular facility will incorporate academic instruction provided by Wharton County Junior College and TSTC will provide technical education and instruction. The options are boundless – students can earn a certificate or complete an associate degree and then transfer to a four-year university to complete a bachelor’s degree. It’s an innovative alliance that will provide exceptional value to all stakeholders.
In Central Texas, Austin Community College (ACC) is expanding its degree and certificate programs to include health sciences, information technology and pharmacy technology. These types of skills are essential for jobs of the future – the very near future. ACC already offers more than 100 degrees and technical certificates that prepare regional workers for high-demand jobs.
The colleges that offer specialized training are also playing a major role in the communities where they are located. In Willacy County, TSTC is helping students earn general equivalency diplomas (GEDs). The county has a high number of residents without high school diplomas. With the help of TSTC, residents will be able to get their diplomas. That will exponentially increase their potential for higher paying jobs.
Statewide, community and technical colleges are making a huge contribution to economic development, job creation and income equality. That is quite an accomplishment!