Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Should the Community College System be a part of the Social Safety Net in the US? I think so. What say you?

For a long time I have felt the Community College system in the US is a resource that is under-utilized and under-appreciated.  The latter probably more so than the former, unfortunately.

Seems like IF we accept the premise that we have multi-millions of the Long Term Unemployed who are not in the workforce, but would like to be, then we should do something to make obtaining additional education/skills much easier.  Otherwise, the problem will persist and ancillary social problems will arise from this involuntary idleness.

This short analysis of the Community College system by EMSI give credence to the value of doing so.  I excerpted part of it and highlighted what I think is the key point:

The Economic Impact of America’s Community Colleges

EMSI’s nationwide economic impact study, released this week by the American Association of Community Colleges, shows the net total impact of community colleges on the U.S. economy was $809 billion in 2012. That’s equal to 5.4% of the nation’s gross domestic product. Put another way, the added income created in the U.S. through increased student productivity and the spending of international students supported the equivalent of 15.5 million jobs in 2012. 
How do colleges contribute so much added income? Think of it this way. Anyone who has studied at a community college enters or re-enters the workforce with new skills. Millions of these students are working across the country today, and when they apply those skills, they’re rewarded with higher incomes than they would have otherwise (e.g., a home health aide who becomes a licensed practical nurse). They also raise business profits through their increased productivity. Together, these higher incomes and increased profits create even more income as they are spent in the U.S. economy.
I ain't no genius but this seems like a no-brainer.  The idea is easy, however, the devil is in the details of how to finance it and get people to take advantage of the opportunity.  Seems like it could be integrated into the existing social safety net.  We either pay for people today to become more self-sufficient or we will pay for them to be dependent for, well, a long time.

Any ideas??
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