This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

July 7, 2004

Are 2-year Colleges Ready

Citizens are asking questions about whether community and technical colleges are prepared to educate and train the next generation of employees. located throughout the United States, these two-year institutions are charged with preparing people for jobs in the communities they serve. While quite a few of these colleges are highly efficient and effective, some fall woefully short of capacity to do the job employers expect.

The majority of students attending these two-year colleges go directly to jobs after graduation. Using their community college experience as a foundation for further learning, a significant percentage of these graduates go on to complete four-year degrees and graduate work,.

A new report says California community colleges aren't prepared for the growing number of residents who will seek college educations during this decade. The report, which only addressed the situation in that state, "Ensuring Access with Quality to California Community Colleges," said an estimated 175,000 students were denied access to community colleges in fall 2003. Demand for higher education in California is expected to grow by 700,000 students over the next seven years, and three-fourths of the growth is expected to be at community colleges, the report said.

Although the report's findings are not new, they are significant because "there's a sense of urgency unlike ever before," said Patrick Callan, president, National Center on Public Policy and Higher Education, which prepared the report. With the anticipated shortage of skilled workers, the need for quality education will intensify.

Obstacles to colleges fulfilling their education and training roles include funding challenges, which lead to insufficient offerings of classes, instructors, and physical space to accommodate the growth. From 2002 to 2003, the report said, the number of courses offered at California community colleges dipped by 9 percent on average, and by 25 percent in some cases. The number of first-time students who were able to enroll at community colleges declined between 2002 and 2003.

As shortages threaten a number of countries, the challenge of providing a balance of academic education and job-oriented training is fast becoming a global issue. California is an example of what will happen internationally.

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