Each year, Career and Technical Education (CTE) provides opportunities for over 13 million post secondary students across the county. Illinois has seen continued growth and demand for CTE through higher completion rates and new program offerings. CTE plays a vital role in meeting workforce demands by preparing individuals for high-skill, in-demand jobs that further Illinois’ global competitiveness.
In recognition of February as National Career and Technical Education Month, the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) underscores the State’s commitment to postsecondary career and technical education. In fiscal year 2013 roughly two-thirds (68.5%) of all Illinois community college graduates earned a CTE degree or certificate. To meet workforce demands, 267 new CTE programs were approved in fiscal year 2014.
“Career and technical education programs are at the core of the community college’s mission to provide educational opportunities tailored to local business and industry needs,” said ICCB executive director Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson. “Community colleges actively partner with local, regional and national employers to develop CTE programs that recognize rapidly changing industry standards.”
Joliet Junior College, for example, has worked with Exelon, Lyondell-Bassel and other local employers to develop degree and certificate options in operations engineering. Carl Sandburg College (Galesburg) recently partnered with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad to develop an Associate of Applied Science for locomotive mechanics. Last month, Harper College (Palatine) unveiled their new Career and Technical Education Center with state-of-the-art equipment to provide students with innovative industrial experience. Several other community colleges around the state have opened similar CTE centers including Richland Community College’s Workforce Development Institute (Decatur). The new Institute has allowed many of the college’s CTE programs to modernize and expand while also increasing dual credit opportunities for area high school students.
“Providing real world context to classroom materials through work-based learning is essential to the success of career and technical education,” said Dr. Anderson. “Rend Lake College’s simulated coal mine provides students with the ability to learn how to use mining equipment and work within a mining environment without actually leaving campus.”
The Illinois Community College Board is the state coordinating board for community colleges. Illinois is home to 48 community colleges in 39 districts and has the third largest community college system in the nation serving nearly 1 million residents each year in credit and non-credit courses.
Moraine Valley Community College serves the Oak Lawn area. The 2015 spring total enrollment at Moraine Valley Community College declined from a year ago, although it still surpassed the 16,000 mark for the ninth consecutive spring semester with a total of 16,916 students.
Credit enrollment dropped to 15,293 students but non-credit enrollment increased to 1,623 students compared to spring 2014.
Moraine Valley’s decline reflects the trend the nation’s community colleges have been experiencing for the past several years after recording record enrollments. “Usually, when the economy softens, enrollment spikes at community colleges, but now that the economy is recovering, enrollments are declining,” said Mark Horstmeyer, director of College Relations.
“Community colleges make up 45 percent of students enrolled in higher education,” he said. “We continue to seek ways to help more students’ educational goals become a reality.”