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Community Colleges Help Close Jobs Gap

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April 29, 2013

Community Colleges Help Close Jobs Gap

By: Ann Ultsch, ACTE intern

The American Association of Community Colleges released a report earlier this year on the contribution that community colleges can play in closing the "jobs gap" that was created by the recession. An estimated 46.8 million jobs will need to be filled in the United States by 2018, 33 million spots opened by retirement and 13.8 million new jobs, according to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce researchers. Many of these jobs will require candidates to be college educated.

The report explains that community colleges across America provide a greater opportunity for higher education for middle-class citizens and foster substantial economic development. The report outlines three roles for community colleges:

  1. Community college as a launching pad: Community colleges provide a starting point in postsecondary education and allow for the acceleration of learning through early college experiences and transfer opportunities
  2. Community college as a re-launching pad: Community colleges provide knowledge and skills to those who have already been to college
  3. Community college as a local commitment: Community colleges provide skills and knowledge to meet local purposes and target community needs

The authors also report that while community colleges contribute significantly to higher education, providing a more educated and capable workforce, they are severely underfinanced. The report calls for more state fiscal support of community colleges and public higher education in order to close the jobs gap and provide a more skilled workforce.

Exemplary community college programs mentioned in the publication include Walla Walla Community College's Center for Enology and Viticulture in Washington, Rockingham Community College in North Carolina and its partnership with MillerCoors, the partnership between Western Nebraska Community College and the headquarters of international retailer Cabela, and Ohio's Columbus State Community College Logistics Attract and Retrain Talent (ART) program.

Ann Ultsch was an intern with the ACTE Public Policy Department from January-April. She is a student at Wittenberg University in Ohio studying political science and English.

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