Illinois Community College Leaders Highlight Student Success and Economic Impact
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois – Community college leaders say Illinois continues to deliver strong ROI for students, businesses and the economy. They also point out that Illinois community college graduates get stable jobs and tend to stay in their communities.
A new economic impact to study shows that colleges helped generate $ 3.5 billion and over 43,000 jobs in fiscal 2020. The Northern Illinois University Center for Governmental Studies found that graduates with associates degrees have an employment rate of 85%. This rises to 92% ten years after graduation.
Illinois has 48 community colleges in all parts of the state. Leaders say they are determined to create a fair path to economic mobility.
“As the largest provider of workforce training in Illinois, community colleges create an educated and skilled workforce that meets the current and future needs of many critical industries across our state.” , said ICCB President Lazaro Lopez.
Responding to the labor shortage through vocational training
Many people have recently said they don’t want to return to low-paying jobs or careers that put them at risk of contracting COVID-19. Community colleges are now seeing a wave of new students because of this change.
“If there is a need in a specific industry that arises within a short period of time, the college can develop these programs in an uncredited manner where they are operational almost immediately. They can work to retrain workers who want to advance, ”said Brian Durham, Executive Director of ICCB.
Black students with long-term certificates or associates in applied science programs increased their earnings by 88%. Latino students achieving the same certifications also increased their income by 119%.
“The 39 community college districts in the state serve more under-represented minority students than all other higher education institutions combined,” Durham said.
Benefit from the workforce equity initiative
LaCrea Lott had the opportunity to transition from CNA’s job to being a medical assistant at Springfield Clinic thanks to the Workforce Equity Initiative program created in 2019. Lott says the training Free available at Lincoln Land Community College through this grant program helps many overcome obstacles. .
“Many students believe and now have the faith that even at 30 like me, it’s not too late to make their dreams come true,” Lott said.
Lott hopes to one day become a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or adolescent therapist.
“A lot of the students are impatient and want to come to community college,” Lott said. “The WEI program offers different careers as medical assistant, CNA, pharmacy technician, CDL. ”
Leaders celebrate success, but they know there’s still work to be done
The study also found that short-term certificates can help people find jobs quickly. For example, some graduates working in the electrical and power transmission field earn nearly $ 70,000 three years after completing their programs. Others working in fire protection, criminal justice, and technology also had high-paying jobs after community college.
Researchers say that students graduating from construction and architecture programs earned more than $ 60,000 five years after graduation. Likewise, graduates of manufacturing programs earn $ 54,000 during the same period.
But the state still hopes to improve. About 20% of potential students do not continue their studies. The members of the board of directors hope that this number will be even lower in the coming years.
“While we are very proud of this document and proud of the work we do, I think it is important that we also take it as a challenge to expand it. We can do more, and we will, ”said Terry Wilkerson, President of Rend Lake Community College.
The Illinois Chamber of Commerce says finding employees with the right workforce skills remains a major challenge for employers.
“Our economic future depends on it,” said Todd Maisch, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce. “Community colleges provide these skills to thousands of Illinois, enabling them to build careers and help employers thrive.