About the only upside to the weak economy these days is that community colleges across the country are seeing an uptick in enrollment. According to the American Association of Community Colleges, overall enrollment peaked at 11.5 million last year and is expected to remain high this year as well. As students from these schools wind their way into the workforce, what impact will it have on IT? Will you welcome new hires from community colleges or worry they don't have the same knowledge level as tech workers from 4-year universities?
Before you dismiss community college students as not having the expertise to get the job done, consider these statistics outlined by USA Today:
- Over 2 million new jobs that require at least a 2-year degree will be created by 2014
- Community colleges account for almost half of all higher education enrollments
- Despite the fact that 2-year colleges receive less funding than 4-year schools, enrollment is still rising
- 60% of adults in community colleges are enrolled part-time, often so they can juggle families and full-time jobs
- The average budget for community college students is around $13,000, yet only 33% qualify for student loans
These statistics demonstrate two key things. First, the job market is is already looking for people with 2-year degrees and will need more in the coming years. Second, motivated adults are willing to spend their time, energy, and own money to make themselves more marketable. Sounds like the perfect storm. The question now isn't do you want to hire employees with "only" a 2-year degree -- it's why wouldn't you?
If your still not convinced that community colleges have the potential to matriculate some of the best and the brightest, consider this sobering fact. According to USA Today, "Community colleges train 80% of the country's police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians and more than half of its new nurses and health care workers."
Surely any school capable of turning out emergency and healthcare workers can also produce great employees capable of watching over your rack room and servers.