North Carolina, as well as our nation, is in a unique place. While COVID-19 has certainly eased its grip, it goes without saying that the impact of the virus will be felt for a long time. The virus is not the only driver of change that confronts us. Business and industry are requiring greater skills in their workers than ever before as advanced technology permeates the workplace. And baby boomers are retiring at record pace. In fact, according to Korn Ferry, 10,000 people per day are reaching retirement age over the course of the next 16 years.
If that is not enough, we have a dearth of skilled workers to fill today’s employment needs, especially in healthcare and IT-related careers. By the way, have you tried to hire a plumber lately? If you haven’t, you may be in for a big surprise. Not only plumbing, but shortages exist in other skilled trades, including electrical and carpentry. The need exceeds the availability of skilled workers.
The solution to the aforementioned problems is community colleges. There has never been a time in our history when community colleges were more in demand than they are today.
Unfortunately, faculty and staff salaries are becoming less and less attractive. There are over 1,000 community colleges in our nation, with North Carolina ranking among the top three systems in size, but near the bottom with salaries. That begs the question: How do North Carolina community colleges remain competitive? Part of that answer is to retain and recruit well-qualified faculty and staff to prepare the hundreds of thousands of students we enroll each year.
With that said, it is clear to me that our legislators rightfully place a high value on community colleges and the significant role they play in workforce and economic development. I applaud that. Community colleges are the most important asset in the state to help rebuild our economy.
I hope that our state leaders will view community college faculty and staff salaries as a priority during this year’s budgetary process.
Roslyn Crisp, DDS, is Alamance Community College’s Board of Trustees chairperson.
Originally Appeared Here