Will the Failing Auto Industry Drive Up Community College Enrollment Rates?
During his visit, President Obama sympathized with residents while simultaneously attempted to boost morale with his $12 billion dollar proposal. With this proposal, President Obama hopes to increase the enrollment rates at community colleges, both in Michigan and across the country, to eventually create a more qualified workforce.
In looking forward to the economic perks of education, President Obama reminded Michigan residents, “'(The) hard truth is that some of the jobs that have been lost in the auto industry and elsewhere won't be coming back... And that only underscores the importance of generating new businesses and industries to replace the ones we've lost, and of preparing our workers to fill the jobs they create.'” As the country's needs and requirements shift with the tides of the economy, President Obama is focused on improving access to education in order to prepare workers for the unavoidable professional shifts that lie ahead.
Unfortunately, mostly due to the dwindling auto industry, leaders acknowledge that Michigan will undoubtedly struggle to rebound from the horrific effects of the recession in their area. Adding to this, the jobless rate in Michigan is projected to get worse before it begins to improve. Yet, although there are struggles ahead, President Obama also reminded Michigan residents that the government bailout of the big three auto companies helped to save the local economy from a much more disastrous financial fate.
This video offers an example of where the auto workers' jobs are headed.
Community Colleges and the 10-year Plan
While Michigan was certainly a main state of focus during President Obama's summer speeches, community college campuses across the country are anticipating a surge in enrollment rates. Essentially, to understand the nationwide impact of the auto collapse, one must foremost consider what happens to Michigan residents facing unemployment. In many cases, laid-off workers quickly move out of state, resulting in population growth in other states. As local population rates rise, college admission rates are expected to similarly rise.
Additionally, as the President is proposing to offer further community college support plans, including free or reduced tuition for unemployed/laid-off workers, experts predict that the community college classrooms in all states should continue to fill with a rising number of students.
How the auto industry has impacted community college curricula
Industry observers would seem to concur with President Obama's concern about the training of workers in the auto industry. Jeff Weber writes in Wards Auto that "Filling manufacturing jobs, especially in the automotive industry, is quickly becoming a crisis. A recent report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute found that the U.S. will create 3.5 million manufacturing jobs during the next decade, but some 2 million of those will remain unfilled because of a lack of qualified candidates." With the auto industry rapidly moving toward building mostly electric-powered vehicles of every model, you can see how Jeff Weber's statement impacts community college auto industry courses.
Community colleges are rising to the challenges involved with training workers for jobs in what is now styled as automotive technology. Here's an example from Massachusetts Bay Community College. You can see how comprehensive their approach is. "Automotive technicians today need cutting-edge skills to keep pace with the advancing needs of the industry. In partnership with BMW, General Motors, Jeep/Chrysler, and Toyota/Lexus, programs within MassBay's Automotive Technology Academy offer hands-on training taught by our ASE Master-certified faculty on state-of-the-art equipment and vehicles at our Automotive Technology Center in Ashland."
This video offers an overview of the automotive technology program at Massachusetts Bay Community Colleges.
As the auto industry undergoes massive changes, our community colleges will help supply the skilled workers necessary to execute those changes. This in turn will have a positive effect on college enrollments after the pandemic eases.
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