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Maximizing the workforce potential of Texas community colleges

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By A.J. Rodriguez and Glenn Hamer for TEXAS 2036

Glenn Hamer is president and CEO of the Texas Association of Business. A.J. Rodriguez is executive vice president of Texas 2036.

“How will we prepare this growing population to contribute to our state’s prosperity, particularly given automation technologies and other disruptions that will impact future workforce needs?”

“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.”

“To accomplish this, the Texas Legislature established the Commission on Community College Finance, which held its first hearings in mid-November.”

“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.”

“In August, Texas 2036 polled the state’s voters and found that almost nine out of 10 of them wanted community colleges to focus on offering course programs that match the needs of the local workforce.”

“Each year, Texas spends more than $5.5 billion on community colleges, including almost $1 billion from students themselves, $1.3 billion from the federal government and $3.4 billion from Texas taxpayers through general funds and designated property tax collections.”

“By 2036, 71% of all jobs in Texas will require a postsecondary credential, but only 32% of high school graduates currently earn such a credential within six years of completing high school.”

“The Texas Commission on Community College Finance provides a critical opportunity to address these challenges, and engaging the business community in this process will provide more Texans with the postsecondary credentials needed to compete for good jobs.”