Community colleges vital to higher education

Welding student Thomas Bradshaw grinds the edges of a piece for a reverse flow barbecue pit he and his classemates are building as a class project in the Galveston College Welding Technology Program.

Photo by Jennifer Reynolds

During the last 40 years community colleges have become an increasingly dynamic and important part of the higher education system. We enroll about 6.2 million full- and part-time students. Another 5 million students of all ages attend community college for noncredit courses. Community colleges are the first stop after high school for millions of students who want a lower-cost close-to-home entrance into higher education. In fact half of all those graduating with a bachelor’s degree today attended a community college first.

But community colleges also produce graduates with the skills to handle a wide range of jobs that need more than a high school education but don’t necessarily require a four-year degree — nurses police officers EMTs nuclear medicine technologists and radiographers. Community colleges operate thousands of job-training programs that don’t point to a degree but help employers meet their staffing needs and help workers adapt to a rapidly changing job market.

Demand for middle-skilled professionals is exploding in industries like health care which is expected to add more than half a million jobs in the next five years. Openings for registered nurses and health technologists’ positions that typically require an associate degree are expected to grow by more than 1 million by 2018. There also will be exceptionally rapid growth in such health care support jobs as medical coders home health aide and patient care attendant.

Galveston College offers all of the programs mentioned above and many more. Our latest venture into job training is the development of the new Galveston College Charlie Thomas Family Vocational-Technical Center 7626 Broadway. The initial programs in this expanding facility offer degrees in welding heating ventilation and air-conditioning and industrial systems.

Welding students receive certificates or an associate of applied science degree that makes them part of a viable workforce. Heating ventilation and air-conditioning students improve skills in current jobs start their own businesses or join other thriving firms in the region. Industrial systems graduates will create a strong pool of employable workers that will replace retiring maintenance professionals in regional medical chemical plants and industrial facilities.

Students are encouraged to seek both degree and workforce training options at Galveston College as soon as possible. Financial aid scholarships and the local Universal Access program help with tuition and fee expenses. As Galveston College enters its 45th year of service to the regional residents we invite you to join us for your new career or retraining opportunities.

Call us if we can be of service at 409-944-4242.

Vera Lewis-Jasper is dean of the technical and professional education program at Galveston College.

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