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Community colleges missing obvious opportunities

A recent survey by Jobs for the Future (JFF) suggests that 40% of working adults rate their jobs as low- or medium quality. Additionally, only two-thirds of these workers say they have access to the resources they need to find a better job. Community colleges could be using this data to develop programs and recruiting campaigns to address these needs.

Workers who perceive their jobs to be “high-quality employment” report being more productive, and 43% of them attribute their success in the workplace to their education. In comparison, only 15% of workers in low/medium quality jobs said the same thing.

Surprisingly, 70% of survey respondents said that non-monetary attributes like scheduling options, work-life balance, work-from-home options, better workplace safety, and more paid time off would increase their quality perceptions of their jobs. Only 30% attributed their low-quality perception of their employment to insufficient wages.

This survey is a goldmine of information for community colleges that want to increase the number of enrolled students. Developing programs that enable students to achieve a better work-life balance, or find remote work opportunities would appeal to workers who are unhappy with their current situation and want opportunities.

Fully one-third of people in low-quality jobs -more than 13% of all workers – do not know how to create a career pathway to a better job. This is literally a home run for community colleges, provided their administrations can figure out how (or bother to make the effort) to reach these workers. (Maybe they should consider developing an online tool that a person can use to map out a career path to a better working situation?)

Community colleges should assist their communities first

I find it absurd that the administration of Washtenaw Community College can figure out how to subsidize the tuition of individuals who are not residents of nor will ever set foot in Washtenaw County but cannot figure out how to help residents of Washtenaw County create a plan for themselves to improve their job prospects.

It’s mind-blowing that Washtenaw County taxpayers will send $70M to WCC this year in property tax revenues, and the best strategy the administration can come up with involves giving our resources away to non-residents, while simultaneously charging Washtenaw County residents a premium for receiving the same services.

What makes this worse is that the Trustees approve this arrangement every year when they set tuition rates. No one has been able to successfully explain to me the benefit that Washtenaw County taxpayers derive from this seemingly cozy arrangement (for everyone else), or what rationale the Trustees could possibly have for permitting this.

As a taxpayer in Washtenaw County, I don’t appreciate the resources I authorized for WCC subsidizing everyone else except Washtenaw County residents.

Photo credit: Cordelia’s Mom, via Flickr