Teaching essential technology is the business of America’s technical colleges
by Dr. Ron Erickson
DCTC Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs
Modern technical colleges have evolved dramatically from the manual labor academies of the early 1800s. Gone are the mechanics institutes and vo-techs of yore. Today’s technical college is a fountainhead of cutting-edge technology that is functional, dynamic and relevant by design.
Our classrooms and labs are packed with students determined to acquire the skill sets of the future. Our graduates are versed in the techniques that underpin technological advancement. They humanize technology, giving it purchase, power and purpose. They enter the job market with the tools and knowledge to land careers that champion their dreams and add value to their communities.
By supporting technical colleges through partnerships and scholarship donations, communities, businesses and individuals strengthen our economic base through the development of a highly skilled and productive workforce.
More than any other sector in higher education, technical colleges anticipate, track and respond to emerging trends in business and industry. We give our students the means to compete on shifting ground—locally, regionally, nationally and globally.
Threatened by a troubled economy, international competition, climate change, soaring fuel costs and ideological adversaries, our country more than ever needs a superbly trained workforce that can react to change decisively and push technology to its limits.
Our instructors are seasoned industry veterans, having lived what they teach on the job. They are hands-on educators, mentoring, coaching, leading and facilitating. They see the promise in their students and keep their own promises through their industry contacts, technical know-how and commitment to an educational experience that makes a difference.
Integrating current and challenging content with superior facilities, our academic programs reflect the requirements of our society. Recent statistics show that 40 million adults in America are engaged in short-term postsecondary occupational training. They are building and bettering their communities by becoming nurses, firefighters, supervisory managers, biomedical technicians, electricians—the list goes on and on.
Always on the lookout for vanguard industries, technical colleges are establishing academic programs that plumb the future and find it dazzling.
More and more of our students are using their two-year degrees as launching pads for earning their baccalaureate degrees and beyond. Considering that annual tuition and fees at a typical two-year college are roughly one-third the cost of a public, four-year institution, finding your academic footing at a technical college makes sound fiscal sense.
Along with shorter stints in the classroom and much lighter loads of student loan debt, our graduates are encountering mounting prosperity in their careers. In July 2008, CNN.com, in partnership with CareerBuilder.com, listed the top 10 hottest jobs for two-year degrees in America. With computer specialists holding the lead, the list covered occupations that employed nationwide almost 4 million people whose average salary as a group was more than $52,000 a year.
Technical colleges are also attracting a wealth of students who already have advanced degrees, but are reinventing their careers or seeking professional development. With increasingly sophisticated business and entrepreneurial programs, technical colleges are magnets for intrepid people looking to achieve financial independence. In fact, Fortune Small Business recently indicated that small businesses make up the fastest growing segment of the U.S. economy, leading the way in generating jobs and assets.
Staunch proponents of lifelong learning, technical colleges in growing numbers are creating institutes of extended education that specifically serve the needs of students aged 50 and up. With the nation’s boomer generation rethinking retirement in what has been described as a “gray tsunami,” technical colleges are discovering ways to open new horizons of learning that keep people active and engaged far longer than ever expected.
Our country more than ever needs a superbly trained workforce that can react to change decisively and push technology to its limits.
Always on the lookout for vanguard industries, technical colleges are establishing academic programs that plumb the future and find it dazzling. Nanoscience technology, robotics engineering and sustainable design are a few examples. The latter emphasizes green solutions in energy, architecture, infrastructure and transportation that foreshadow a green revolution with the potential to reshape and revitalize the world economy.
Technical education is particularly significant in view of our nation’s current economic crisis. By supporting area technical colleges through partnerships and scholarship donations, communities, businesses and individuals strengthen our economic base through the development of a highly skilled and productive workforce.
Technical colleges are founded on the idea that education for employment is the foundation of any successful society. With essential technology as a launching pad, our students and communities continue to benefit from the integrity of that idea.
Future Prosperity Now
According to a recent article on PayScale.com, a large number of high-paying careers are waiting for people with two-year associate degrees, including physical therapist assistant, surveying technician, Web designer and computer support specialist—all with average salaries topping $42,000 a year.
Convenient class schedules for working adults, drastically reduced student debt and faster turnaround time between the classroom and the workplace, make earning your two-year degree at a technical college a very smart move for individuals looking to get ahead and achieve financial security.