Opinion: Good investment at Blackhawk Tech

July 28, 2014

From beloitdailynews.com: “Good investment at Blackhawk Tech” — IF YOU OR SOMEONE you know became a parent any time recently, chances are the job the child one day will hold hasn’t even been invented yet.

And don’t think that child will grow up, get that job and spend a lifetime performing the same work.

Most people will hold many different jobs — really different jobs — in the course of a life’s work.


About now parents will be wondering how the child is supposed to prepare for a career culture so thoroughly fluid and unknown.

THE KEY INGREDIENT is education. For many professional positions that means a four-year university degree, or even more. Graduate degrees will proliferate as young men and women try to gain an edge in the job market.

For many others a two-year technical and career education can be the ticket, either for direct entry into the workplace or in preparation for more specialized training.

Just as importantly, technical and career education will be the bridge for those non-traditional students who find themselves left behind as the culture of work becomes more complicated and demanding. It happens every week. Advances in technology coupled with the global realities described in author Thomas Friedman’s book “The World is Flat” lead to massive disruptions in traditional industries.

Staying current and staying relevant in the work environment requires flexibility and constant learning.

WHICH BRINGS US to our point: On Aug. 12 voters in Rock and Green counties will be asked to approve Blackhawk Technical College exceeding its levy limits by $4 million to pay for operational needs.

The answer should be a strong, positive yes.

First of all, it’s a bargain. BTC’s mill rate is lower than it used to be and will remain so if the referendum is approved. It sounds too good to be true, but your BTC property taxes will remain low.

Moreover, the referendum seeks just $4 million, a relative pittance in the overall scheme of governance. The federal government spends trillions — and squanders much of it. State government spends billions — and squanders a fair amount. Beloit city government and the School District of Beloit together spend hundreds of millions, better managed closer to home. The school district is spending $70 million alone on rebuilding district facilities.

In a sense, $4 million is lint in the pocket for government big spenders.

WHAT THAT $4 MILLION buys really counts. It pays for more direct course offerings for in-demand jobs. It pays for the flexibility to respond quickly to changing industry needs. It pays for adapting to the needs of non-traditional students, by increasing evening and weekend class sections. It pays for the people to teach those classes. It pays for support staff for faculty. It pays for people to pursue revenue-generating grants. And it’s intended to help pay for a long-term water system need to protect taxpayers’ investments at the college.

Most of all it pays for critical needs as the region moves forward into an uncertain and unknowable future. Change is occurring at a pace never seen before on this planet, and the future belongs to those most capable of adapting — repeatedly — to that cycle. The communities have been working hard to be ready in a changing world, with considerable success — most recently marked by the announcement that NorthStar Radioisotopes is beginning construction of its high-tech $150 million plant on Beloit’s East Side. These and other jobs to come will require high-level skills. There’s no alternative to staying state-of-the-art at the region’s career and technical college.

BTC’s $4 million ask is needed and it’s reasonable. The Beloit Daily News endorses a “yes” vote on Aug. 12. Help our workers stay at the forefront.

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