Opinion: We need to maximize the workforce potential of our community colleges

In advance of the 2023 legislative session – what many are hoping will become a “workforce session” – it is essential to look at community colleges’ role in workforce development. It is also crucial that we examine why we place last among large states in the percentage of our population with postsecondary credentials.

To accomplish this, the Texas Legislature established the Commission on Community College Finance, which held its first hearings this week in Austin. Its mission is to craft recommendations for the Legislature to establish a state funding formula and appropriate funding levels to sustain viable community college education and training programs throughout the state.

This mission should also include looking at how Texas’ community colleges can partner with high schools, employers, and four-year colleges to build career pathways that lead to good-paying jobs. The commission should also evaluate the availability and kinds of courses offered to Texas students.

Not surprisingly, Texans agree.

In August, Texas 2036 polled voters and found that almost 9 out of 10 Texas voters wanted community colleges to focus on offering course programs that match the needs of the local workforce. And 7 out of 10 thought the state should link community college funding levels to whether students find good-paying jobs after completing their educational program. Better workforce alignment isn’t just necessary, it’s popular and a smart financial investment.

Read more via the Austin American Statesman here