By 2020, only one-third of new jobs nationally will require a four-year degree or more, according to Vice President of Instruction Tim Cook.
In other words, the majority of new jobs will require only a two-year degree or less.
Clark partners with local businesses and high schools to help career and technical programs stay current with local industry demands.
Cook said many people think that everyone needs a four-year degree when in reality many jobs don’t require it.
“I run into students all the time that think, ‘I don’t necessarily want to transfer. I don’t want to go to college for that long.’ And there’s plenty of jobs that don’t require that,” Cook said.
According to Dean of Workforce, Career and Technical Education Genevieve Howard, there are multiple pathways possible at Clark. One can graduate with an associate degree and then transfer to a four-year college or get a job.
Or one can study for two years in a specific field and graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree or Technology degree, which are both part of Career and Technical Education, without needing to transfer. Career and technical programs are focused on job skills like automotive, diesel, welding and nursing, Howard said.
“There [are] an immense number of job opportunities in these technical areas where you make good money; these are solid, raise-a-family wages in two years,” Howard said.
This is an urgent time for Clark to train as many students as possible in the career and technical fields, because there is a great need for them in local industries, Howard said. Howard said the retirement of baby boomers has resulted in many job opportunities. “It’s a huge scramble for community colleges and high schools to meet the need of the community.”
Even with dwindling enrollment, Clark’s career and technical programs are filled nearly to capacity, Howard said.
Howard said the career and technical programs will reap economic benefits for the local community in the future years as business learn about qualified Clark graduates and other people learn about the benefits of two-year degrees.
All 26 career and technical programs have their own advisory boards, which consist of people from local businesses, Cook said.
Advisory board members meet at least once a quarter to review the programs, review the equipment and provide input, Cook said. The advisory boards tell Clark officials when to change curriculum to stay current with industry.
Clark works with multiple companies including Toyota, Longview Fibre, a welding company, and clinics and hospitals, Cook said.
In addition to working with industries, Clark partners with local high schools, Howard said.
Clark has a program called Tech Prep, which is “similar to Running Start, but focused on technical programs,” Howard said.
In qualified classes, if a high school provides a class that results in the same outcome as a Clark course, then a high school student can receive college credit without attending college. There is no extra cost for this program, Howard said.