On the eve of President Obama’s jobs summit, the head of Louisiana’s community and technical colleges made the case for policy changes that would put more emphasis on his schools and impact the state’s work force and four-year universities.
And a stronger community and technical college system means a better economy, said Jim Henderson, chancellor of Bossier Parish Community College in Bossier City.
"One of our key missions is to provide the quality and quantity of work force to give employers a competitive advantage," he told those gathered Wednesday morning at the Shreveport Hilton.
"We see that communities with strong community and technical colleges are those that experience the most economic growth and are more resilient when there are downturns. It’s strong here. We just want to strengthen it further."
The Shreveport-Bossier City area’s unemployment rate stood at 7.1 percent in October, according to figures the Louisiana Workforce Commission released Nov. 24. And the nation’s unemployment rate has risen to above 10 percent in the 10 months since Obama approved spending $787 billion to jump-start the U.S. economy. Today, he will gather economists, academics and corporate executives at the White House to consider how the U.S. government can spur job creation.
The Louisiana Technical College, the Louisiana Community & Technical College System and Bossier Parish Community College sponsored the work force and leadership briefing held Wednesday morning.
"We are the fastest growing system in the country," said Joe May, president of the Louisiana Community & Technical College System. "We have been for the last three years in a row."
The Louisiana Community & Technical College System has several policy recommendations for the Louisiana Postsecondary Education Review Commission, which the state Legislature created to consider how to best meet Louisiana’s educational and work force needs.
First, the Louisiana Community & Technical College System wants a 50-50 enrollment mix between four- and two-year institutions. To accomplish this, community and technical colleges would have to be the sole provider of one-year certificates, associate degrees and remedial and developmental studies programs and courses.
Another recommendation is the seamless transfer of students from four-year to two-year institutions. Transfer accountability and advising also would play a part in the process.
The next policy change would apply to the Tuition Opportunity Program for Students. The Louisiana Community & Technical College System wants to use it to encourage students to attend a community college before attending a four-year institution.
Go Grants also are a way to sway more students to the two-year route.
The Louisiana Community & Technical College System also would like to see performance funding for schools that meet standards like job placement and certificate and license exam passage rates.
Additionally, policies should be adopted to support funding of facilities options for community and technical colleges.