Why is President Obama’s proposal critical to the successful recovery of the economy? In case you missed it, here’s a summary of it from The Washington Post, July 14, 2009, and below that, our comments.

“President Obama will propose a $12 billion investment in the nation’s community colleges today, arguing that the money will drive expansions and reforms in the system that are needed to help people get educated in the struggling economy.
The college initiative is designed to drive growth in the number of community college graduates, as fewer people are able to afford pricey four-year universities, senior administration officials told reporters Monday night. Obama will call for 5 million additional community college graduates by 2020.
To achieve that goal, officials said, Obama’s new initiative includes $2.5 billion for construction and renovation at the nation’s community colleges, $500 million to develop new online courses and $9 billion for “challenge grants” aimed at spurring innovation at the colleges.”

In examining why this proposal is critical to the successful recovery of the economy, a look at Wisconsin’s Technical Colleges’ success over the years may help illustrate the benefits of two-year community and technical colleges. A recent study of 2008 Wisconsin Technical College graduates revealed:

Nearly half of all Wisconsin adults have attended a Wisconsin Technical College at some point in their lives for education and training. Why? Accessibility is integral to the technical college mission. With flexible course offerings, working adults can attend classes in the evening, on weekends and online, to educate themselves while still bringing home a paycheck. Additionally, people who transitioned directly into the workforce from high school or who didn’t make it through high school may have the same opportunities as someone who has a bachelor degree attending a technical college. So, whether your competencies are up to date or not, or perhaps you need stronger math skills to get into that nursing program, a technical/community college will not turn you away, but will provide whatever basic skills needed to succeed in a college-level program.

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Are two-year colleges trendy? “The new black”? Okay, maybe not yet, but can they save the U.S. Economy? (Time Magazine) http://bit.ly/GAI9l

Some recent statistics taken from the Wisconsin Technical College System’s 2008 Graduate Follow Up Report suggest that these technical colleges, at least in Wisconsin, have quite a bit of potential to become, not trendy, but more of the accepted norm. Some highlights from the report:

  • 91% of 2008 tech college graduates are employed;
  • 81% of 2008 technical college graduates live and work in the state of Wisconsin;
  • 77% of all technical college graduates are employed in their field of study;
  • The top reason students cite for attending a technical college is to prepare for employment (38%);
  • Of nursing students (of which there were 1,123) 98% are employed in their field and are earning an annual median salary of $47,316;
  • Students who completed a program in the health occupations category had a median salary of $32,820, while those who received an associate degree in health occupations had a median salary of $45,393;
  • 96% of graduates with an Associate Degree in Health Occupations are employed in their field of study

For more specific salary data, see the previous post.

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