During April, the nation recognizes community colleges for the impact they make on the local, state and national economy.
Community colleges do more to align education with the workforce than ever before. As we celebrate Community College Awareness Month in April, it is the right time to take a serious look at what Gadsden State Community College contributes to growth of the economy and the preparation of the workforce needed by local business and industry.
Today’s economy calls for a 1:2:7 ration in our jobs. What does that mean? It simply means that for every 10 jobs available today, one will require a graduate degree; two will require a baccalaureate degree, and seven will require a postsecondary certificate or an associate degree. The current job market in our region and the state needs highly-skilled technicians who understand the use of technology in fields that previously were known as “manual labor” jobs.
Machine tool, automotive repair and heating/air conditioning shops blend advanced technology with problem solving and analysis skills that are complemented with hands-on training. Graduates of career technical educational program are in high demand. Many of our students are recruited and employed prior to completing their certificate program or college degree.
We also encourage students to take advantage of co-op and apprenticeship opportunities that transition students into the workforce and help them gain the skill sets they need to be successful in the workplace.
By 2018, 55-65 percent of jobs will require some postsecondary education. In Alabama, we are lagging behind with approximately 32 percent of our workforce holding a postsecondary credential. At GSCC, we are working to make opportunities available for those who are looking for a career that leads to gainful employment, a sustainable living wage and financial security.
Working with our K-12 system we are reorganizing our dual enrollment program to ensure high school students are informed about the local job market and how they can complete a postsecondary credential at the same time they graduate from high school.
If a student has chosen to pursue a baccalaureate degree, community colleges provide high-quality transfer degree programs that provide a student a cost-effective alternative for their first two years of study. Students can save at least 50 percent of tuition costs by attending a community college to take English, history, math and science courses. They can even save more by living at home and taking advantage of additional savings in room and board.
Is a community college the right decision for you? I think you will find many advantages if you take a closer look. Take a moment to visit our website. Check out the programs and certificates available at Gadsden State. If your goal is to obtain a four-year degree, begin by completing a certificate or associate degree program that will prepare you with a skill set and credential for employment. You can work your way through the four-year degree and hopefully avoid thousands of dollars in student loan debt.
Call us and schedule a tour; visit our One Stop Center on the East Broad Campus. We have professional advisors who are eager to introduce you to the opportunities available to you.
If you have narrowed your interests to two or three programs, we can arrange a visit and tour of the program facilities. Often, meeting with students and faculty provide real-world knowledge of entry-level salaries, job opportunities and career advancement options.
Gadsden State is one of 25 community colleges across the state. Serving five counties in northeast Alabama – Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair — we offer transfer, professional and career technical education that leads to jobs and careers close to home, across the state and anywhere you wish to go.
Your decision about College, whether you are a high school graduate or a second-career student, is one that can change your life, provide security for your family and redefine your future. Don’t hesitate – call us or visit a GSCC campus close to you.
_Dr. Martha Lavender is the president of Gadsden State Community College._