President Obama recognized the important role that community colleges play in meeting the demands for an educated workforce and supporting those unemployed who are seeking retraining. To do so, he highlighted North Carolina’s own Forsyth Tech Community College where innovative strategies to connect post-secondary education to emerging industries like bio-tech have been successful at moving the region’s economy into the future. Joining him as his guest at the State of the Union was Kathy Proctor a North Carolina worker who returned to Forsyth Tech after losing her job in manufacturing.
Recent analysis from a variety of sources demonstrate the role our post-secondary education system will need to play in elevating completion rates to meet the demand for jobs. One study finds that North Carolina would need to graduate an additional 9,440 with associate’s or bachelor’s degrees between now and 2025.
As state policymakers consider what it will take to rebuild the state’s economy, continuing to fund growing enrollment at these institutions throughout the state and ensuring that all students–young and old and with low-incomes–can complete an educational program is critical. The state’s investment in need-based financial aid and access to federal student loans for all students are policies that can help students overcome significant financial barriers to completion. Moving the state closer to meeting the demands of the future economy.