32 min ago
Tom Striplin
Community colleges play a crucial role in providing opportunities for learning, career advancement and job placement. They work in collaboration with businesses, industries and four-year universities, forming an essential part of regional economic development. When considering new academic or workforce programs, colleges assess the skills and knowledge required for graduates to excel in their chosen fields and align them with job market demands.
The shortage of professionals in various career paths, particularly in nursing, is a significant concern. The Health Resources and Services Administration estimates that the United States could face a shortage of 100,000 to 200,000 registered nurses by 2025. This shortage could have a detrimental impact on patient care. To address this issue, community colleges and universities should collaborate and align their programs to ensure seamless credit transfer and build upon foundational knowledge.
The trend of offering early college and dual enrollment courses has been on the rise. There is a growing emphasis on providing career-focused programs to high school students, allowing them to embark on rewarding careers with good salaries. Colleges in Maryland and West Virginia are expanding their early college and industry certificate options to address the current and future shortage of skilled professionals. Community colleges offer entry-level career-based degrees, while four-year colleges play a vital role in advancing skills to supervisory and management positions. Fields like federal law enforcement and cybersecurity often require advanced degrees for certain roles, highlighting the importance of curriculum alignment and collaboration among colleges.
All higher education institutions should strive to offer multiple pathways to degrees and certificate programs that meet the increasing demands of the workforce while keeping student debt and costs manageable. It is crucial to avoid burdening students with excessive educational debts that they may struggle to repay due to limited job opportunities or inadequate salaries. Students and parents are becoming more discerning consumers, considering the potential job market before committing to a college degree. Collaboration among colleges, rather than competition, will be instrumental in meeting workforce demands and minimizing educational costs for students as we navigate the changing landscape.
Tom Striplin is president of Eastern West Virginia Community & Technical College, Moorefield, West Virginia. He earned his doctorate degree in higher education leadership and masters degree in education from Frostburg State University.
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