As you may have already heard, CCAC recently received $10 million from the state towards the development of a new workforce training facility at Allegheny Campus. This is fantastic news!
In light of this exciting new development, I thought I’d take the opportunity this month to talk a little bit about the workforce and career programs at CCAC and why the development of this new center is so vital at this time.
For starters, what do I mean when I say “workforce” or “career programs”? I am referring here to the degree and certificate programs at CCAC that, when completed, will have covered all of the foundational training, skills and credentials a new graduate would need to be able to immediately seek employment in their desired field.
Unlike transfer programs, which are designed to provide a more general educational foundation for students seeking to transfer to a four-year college upon graduation, career programs typically feature a rigorous, more focused curriculum centered around the development of applied skills and knowledge in a specific career sector.
That’s not to say that students in career programs don’t have opportunities for continuing education—far from it! It is simply to say that for thousands of lucrative, high-growth, in-demand job opportunities around Allegheny County, a two-year degree is sufficient for getting started in a new career.
Put another way: shouldering the burden of student loan debt should not be a prerequisite for pursuing a well-paying and satisfying career. And since making quality education affordable and accessible is quite literally our reason for existing, workforce and career programs are an especially important part of what we do and what we are able to offer to our students.
At CCAC, 41% of our credit students, nearly half, are enrolled in career programs. Our skilled trades programs such as Mechatronics, Welding, Automotive Technology and a range of formal apprenticeship programs are included in these numbers, but there are a wide range of employment sectors represented among the career programs.
Allied health programs such as Massage Therapy, Paramedics and Respiratory Therapy; business programs such as Court Reporting, Culinary Arts, and Foodservice Management; even STEM fields such as Information Technology Support, social and human services programs like Fire Science Administration and arts programs like our Film Technician certificate program are all career programs. We even have non-credit career training credential programs available through CCAC Workforce Development. I could go on, but I feel I’ve given you enough links for one day.
With so many different types of career programs available, most requiring dedicated spaces where students can get hands-on training with specific, industry-standard tools as part of their curriculum, this funding could not have come at a better time. A new workforce facility will give us the opportunity not only to create top-notch training spaces for some of our existing career programs, but to also develop new programs and spaces with an eye on the new and growing industries in Allegheny County.
When the center is completed, it will be one of the only workforce training centers located within the City of Pittsburgh, making it easier for city residents to take advantage of career training opportunities in these new and growing fields without a prohibitively long commute. As if I needed another reason to be thrilled about this!
It is important for us, as a community college, to be able to serve the diverse educational needs of our students in a way that encourages personal growth and long-term career success, as well as to support regional efforts to develop sustainable avenues for economic growth.
With the development of this new center, I am confident we will be able to continue to do both in new and innovative ways for years to come.
Questions? Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @QBpresCCAC. See you in October for the next Bullock's Blog!