Commentary: EvCC, colleges preparing path to careers

State lawmakers need to make investments that will connect students with training and education.

By David Beyer

For The Herald

Think about the future of your child or grandchild in terms of the quality of their lives with respect to a job and career.

Study after study shows people need good, well-paying jobs and most of those jobs require training and education beyond high school.

Our state’s leaders from all political perspectives also understand the importance of having a skilled workforce to remain economically competitive and financially secure.

According to the Washington Roundtable, there will be 740,000 job openings by 2023 and roughly 70 percent will require education beyond high school. At the same time, people need a range of pathways to those jobs, whether it’s an employer certificate, training in a vocational trade, a two-year degree, a four-year degree or an apprenticeship.

One of the most powerful ways to address this need is for the state Legislature to prioritize higher education funding next session – for students at community and technical colleges and universities alike.

From the community and technical college perspective, we realize that pathways to careers run right through our colleges. Everett Community College is affordable, is committed to an equitable and accessible higher education for students from all backgrounds, and is closely connected to our school districts, local employers, community partners and universities.

In the past 10 years, EvCC has added or expanded 18 programs to meet the needs of local employers, including mechatronics and avionics, access to studying for a four-year degree in nursing, STEM careers, quality business programs and outstanding transfer options.

We partner to diversify pathways in education and health sciences with University of Washington’s Bothell campus, Washington State University and Western Washington University. The college is focused on moving students through their educational paths in a timely and helpful way to improve time to completion and reduce financial costs and student debt.

EvCC has been fortunate over the past decade in planning and implementing a physical transformation of our campus with new instructional facilities, student housing and a new student fitness center. Additionally, there are new leased facilities in Monroe and Arlington and remodeled buildings at Paine Field.

Program and student growth continue to drive the need for new EvCC buildings. The college is scheduled for funding from the Legislature to replace the current library with a new Learning Resource Center by 2023 and to replace Baker Hall, which was built in 1966, with a new classroom building several years later.

The college is also collaborating with the city of Everett to create a pedestrian bridge across the busy North Broadway intersection dividing the east and west corridors of our campus, increasing student safety and mobility as EvCC expands further east along with our four-year partners.

Community and technical colleges are also seeking investments in three other key areas for students: guided career pathways, training in high-demand careers and increased compensation for the quality teaching our faculty provide.

As legislators set their sights on writing the next state budget, their focus should be on funding education beyond high school. Community and technical colleges and our four-year university partners create common ground — and a powerful public good — for the people of Washington state.

David Beyer is president of Everett Community College.

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