For decades, community colleges have held a preeminent place in the hearts and minds of our com- munities as a doorway to opportunity. Due to a confluence of talent, vision
and sheer grit, community colleges all
across the nation are now recognized as
the most innovative, flexible and responsive partners to meet the needs of our
local and regional businesses.
Taken as a whole, America’s community colleges are the largest network
of workforce providers in the nation,
educating 12 million Americans this year
alone. We are a force to be reckoned with!
For our business partners, we provide
well-prepared employees at the middle-skills level. For our students, we are the
only sector of higher education that can
make a significant difference in their cost
of attending college and minimizing the
size of their student debt.
To borrow a phrase from T. S. Eliot, we
are the “practical cats” of higher education. Few institutions can lay claim to our
bold premise: Everything we do is workforce development. Everything.
At community colleges, workforce
development drives our entire curriculum.
We educate nurses, accountants, engineers, teachers, welders and plumbers as
well dancers, poets, artists and musicians.
In our local neighborhoods and
across the state and region, we help
increase the number of prospective
employees ready to work in a wide
range of business or entrepreneurial
settings—benefitting not only workers
and their families, but the companies
that employ them and the communities
enriched by their presence.
Our nation’s 1,103 community colleges
form the largest network of work-
force providers in the nation. No other
sector comes close to making the rich
contribution that we do to uplift the
social and economic well-being of our
communities. Both the Obama and the
Trump administrations have propelled
community colleges into the forefront of
a conversation about meeting America’s
pressing workforce needs.
Community colleges are working
hard to align curricula and training
to match the expectations of America’s
21st-century workforce. We all are striving to achieve cutting-edge currency in
everything we do: curriculum, facilities,
equipment, institutional systems, and
faculty and staff expertise. This is hard,
We remain committed to this
task and are buoyed by the growing
recognition—both internal and
external—that no one else can do
what we do to meet the needs of our
communities and our business partners.
This is where the resourcefulness
and purpose of thousands of community
college professionals shines brightest. If
there is a need in our communities, we
find a way to meet it.
An apt aphorism from the philosopher Seneca fits well here: “Luck is
what happens when preparation meets
opportunity.” We have been preparing to
meet this opportunity for decades. We are
a workforce solution that does not need
to be invented. We are already here, in
virtually every community in the country.
Our opportunity is now!
Sandra L. Kurtinitis is president of Community College of
Baltimore County and chair of the AACC Board of Directors.
T E R Sandra L. Kurtinitis
DIREC TOR OF PUBLICATIONS
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LSC Communications–Liberty, Mo.
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© 2018 American Association of Community Colleges.
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Volume 89 , Issue 3.
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If there is a need in our communities, we find a way
to meet it.