Community Colleges Help Meet Demand, Keep Grads Here

BBJ Editorial May 13, 2021

From the Boston Business Journal:

Commencement season is that time of year when new careers are launched, as thousands of students enter the Massachusetts workforce, degrees in hand, ready to put their years of education and training to work at local companies.

But this year, community colleges will be churning out fewer students than they have in a generation, all because of the coronavirus pandemic. Enrollment at the state’s 15 community colleges fell to a 23-year low in fall 2020, due to factors including a lack of childcare and rampant job losses — issues that disproportionately affect the finances of part-time, lower-income students that comprise the majority of community colleges.

This is not good news for employers looking to recruit a diverse, educated workforce. Community colleges are already a hidden gem of employment that typically enrolls more minority and female students than other type of higher education institution. If enrollment drops, such wellsprings of workforce talent will struggle to meet the demand required of a ramping-up economy. Bunker Hill Community College President Pam Eddinger put it this way, calling the effort to get people back to work “job one” for community colleges: “Job loss in communities of color has been dramatic, and every aspect of community life is eroded,” she wrote in an email to the Business Journal. “We must fund short-term training and upskilling. Put public dollars to work in creating programs, offsetting tuition, and incentivizing businesses to create a just and equitable recovery.”

Click HERE to read the full article on the Boston Business Journal.