Community Colleges’ Instrumental Role in Montgomery County’s Post-Pandemic Rebuild 

Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez
Image via MCCC.
Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez.
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With eased COVID-19 restrictions and a “new normal” underway, Montgomery County is in a period of recovery, reconnection, and rebuilding. There’s one type of institution that has been persistently overlooked for its ability to bolster the local workforce amid shortages, catalyze economic recovery, and provide a better life for our region’s citizens – community colleges.

During Community College Week – March 28 through April 1 – we are reminded of the transformational role our community college plays in sustaining Montgomery County’s skilled and diverse workforce and growing economy through flexible and affordable education and training programs.

It’s an opportune time for state and local leaders to provide appropriate and consistent operating and capital support for community colleges, thus expanding equitable access to community college programming. As the largest providers of postsecondary education and training in Pennsylvania, community colleges are well-positioned to aid in the state’s economic recovery and help build a prosperous future.

For more than half a century, community colleges have served as anchors in regions across Pennsylvania, including Montgomery County, and bedrocks of higher learning for all. With greater support, community colleges can continue building a skilled workforce trained for life-sustaining careers.

There are countless high-paying jobs available to students with two-year associate degrees in fields most in need of workers today. The number of jobs requiring an associate’s degree is projected to increase by 17.6% in 2022, the second-fastest-growing group behind those requiring master’s degrees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  

Community colleges have a proven track record of contributing talented workers to the local economy. With established partnerships and relationships with local employers, workforce development programs, apprenticeship and internship initiatives, and other services, students are poised to quickly launch successful careers right here at home. 

In addition to the direct impact on local job placement, community colleges boast a strong pipeline of postsecondary students who go on to complete their bachelor’s degrees at a higher rate than the national average, creating more opportunities for advancement in the workforce.

Additionally, community colleges are key to providing more opportunities for higher education and training for underserved minority groups. About 40% of students at public community colleges in the U.S. are Black/African American or Hispanic/Latino, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Community colleges are built for all of the region’s citizens and play an important role in promoting diversity, belonging, and equity in the greater community.

As Montgomery County moves forward, the evolving economic landscape will require workers to quickly and affordably adapt and learn new skills. This is no small feat, but our community college is poised to help our citizens succeed. We are eager to collaborate with policymakers to eliminate any barriers to postsecondary education attainment and help the region reach a future where debt-free college degrees are possible.

As we enter Community College Week, we call on state and local lawmakers to recognize the powerful impact of these critical educational institutions and embrace their crucial role in our region’s recovery.