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Monday AM May 11th, 2009

Community colleges are busier than ever, retraining workers for emerging skill sets demanded by industry. The Houston Forum this week looks at the contribution of community colleges. Ed Mayberry reports.



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The president of the nation’s largest community college is the guest speaker at The Houston Forum Tuesday night.  Houston has the second-largest community college in the country.  Tom Snyder from Indiana’s Ivy Tech Community College is discussing how those colleges can help put Americans to work. 

“We have a workforce and economic development program where we have offices throughout the state and we partner with industry.  We also look at the 50 hot jobs that are described in our particular state.  Yours may be more energy-related than ours, so it depends on the state, but we reach out and we work with industry to develop custom programs.”

Snyder’s system in Indiana has seen double-digit growth, doubling in size over ten years. 

“Community college is below the radar screen.  The monies that were allocated in the stimulus — little of that made its way to community colleges, which is really probably the most critical for preserving our middle class.  There’s no easy statutory vehicle by which funds can go directly to the community colleges.  As critical as we are, where we’re getting double-digit growth but not double-digit funding increases from the state and municipalities, we’re not going to be able to do what needs to be done to re-tool America.”  

Houston Community College says it returns over $1 billion to the local economy each year through earnings of former students, faculty and staff, and is responsible for the creation of 30,000 jobs each year. 

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.