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Survey: Community College Workforce Programs Prove Popular

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Monday, September 20, 2021   

AUSTIN, Texas - A new national survey of community and technical colleges highlights the importance of job-focused education and training.

It finds 35% of students at these schools are taking non-credit courses that lead to industry certifications and credentials. That's a change from students who used to stick with academic courses designed to transfer to a four year school.

Tamar Jacoby - president of Opportunity America, the group that did the survey - said community and technical colleges offer students, whether they're 18 or 48, an affordable pathway to a career.

"Community college students can be job-focused or not job focused,' said Jacoby. "They can be learning welding or nursing or they can be learning liberal arts and sociology."

Texas' Commissioner of Higher Education Harrison Keller says many students enrolled in non-credit programs later pursue four year degrees, but on average, only 20% of community colleges allow students to leverage non-credit learning for college credit.

According to the survey, of the nation's 10.5 million community college students, about three quarters are older than 25.

Last week, the Austin Community College District announced a new partnership with Toyota Motor North America, called "Technician Training and Education Network," to begin next fall. It's designed to provide a pipeline to careers with Toyota and Lexus.

Chauncy Lennon, vice president for learning and work at Lumina Foundation, said the next challenge is getting more American businesses to cross-promote innovation.

"Get industries to come together and better identify their shared skill needs," said Lennon. "And then, signal those over to the community-college system."

A survey question about partnerships between community colleges and local employers found that only about 36% of employer partners offer workplace-based learning opportunities.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.




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