In August, we asked our readers about the issues you wanted to hear from candidates running for the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees. Based on your feedback, we’ve developed a five-point questionnaire that addresses the issues that matter most to customers in the neighborhood.
Each day this week, we’ll be posting contestants’ answers to one of the five questions. Today we are posting the candidates’ answers to the following question:
The pandemic has disrupted the regional and national economy. Many companies still say they are struggling to find enough skilled workers, and many workers are either reluctant to return to full-time work due to the continued spread of COVID-19 or are re-evaluating their career choices. What role should JCCC play in developing Johnson County’s post-pandemic workforce?
Below are the responses the Post received from applicants on this question:
As I mentioned in my answer to the last question, one of the best ways to get people to find a job is to help them get their education in any way they can. One thing that stands in the way of that, in my personal experience as a college student, is accessibility. I have said since the start of my campaign that we need to find financially responsible ways to increase access to scholarships and reduce tuition fees. I’ve had classes with people who work 40 hours a week, single parents, people who struggle to support themselves while taking classes to try to get their education. We need to ensure that JCCC continues to provide quality education to all, and that we do so in a way that makes education accessible to everyone, regardless of their life situation.
There are two important reasons why JCCC will continue to play an important role in Johnson County’s economy. First and foremost, the college ensures that we have a ready and resilient workforce. Businesses won’t come to Johnson County if they can’t find the skilled workers to join their organizations. In many cases, Johnson County businesses come to the JCCC to partner with educators to develop training specific to their needs. This resource has proven to be a winning resource for companies that need to retrain their workers. This is especially important since the disruption caused by COVID-19, but other disruptions (i.e. artificial intelligence, climate change, etc.) are on the horizon and we should work with our local business partners to make sure we prepare for it. changes in the market.
Second, JCCC prepares students to be engaged and responsible citizens in their communities. Communities thrive when citizens share a connection that can only be achieved by learning to understand different perspectives and viewpoints. The JCCC provides these opportunities to students through classroom participation and extracurricular activities. Both the worker and the citizen are fed at the JCCC.
Lee Cross (incumbent)
The College should continue the half-century of partnership that we have with our region. We must continue to invest in our local schools, chambers of commerce, our medical community, churches and local businesses. By building relationships, we can begin to forge the partnerships and alliances that are necessary to secure jobs for our students.
The goal of college should be to prepare students for their future. This means making sure our program provides the right tools and realistic skills that employers are looking for. We currently have obsolete classes that need to be updated. Partnering with local businesses is the best way to ensure we stay relevant and on the cutting edge of technology.
Paul Snider (incumbent)
JCCC is in the best position to train the leaders of tomorrow. We have an excellent continuing education staff who continually work with employers to understand the needs of the workforce and provide training for certificates. I strongly support the recent investments in the College’s building and vocational and technical training (CTE) programs which have enabled the College to significantly expand programs in welding, electrical, HVAC and others where careers are located. available.
As good as the College is today, it must improve to meet the needs of the community. Johnson County business leaders would gladly participate in discussions to help Johnson County thrive and I am in a good position to help facilitate if needed.
Wayne H. Sandberg
Did not respond.
Yes, JCCC should partner with local businesses to help develop the workforce after and during the pandemic with regards to economic changes and future challenges.
The JCCC should bring together three groups, 1) large employers in the region, 2) small local businesses, and 3) potential employees (those who have chosen not to work and students), to have an open conversation to reflect. and create plans to work in partnership to reassess skills and work structure. The first step is to understand why the economy has changed and assess each factor individually and how it intersects with other factors.
The JCCC should continue to develop and renew its relationships with industry and community resources to ensure that our agenda remains relevant and agile for the developing and evolving workforce. College and business can co-create study and apprenticeship programs with specific industries, so we become a big pool of great employees for them.
We must continue to help students learn and earn money. Some don’t have the luxury of only attending classes, and the ability to earn their major while pursuing a degree can help with retention.
Jobs in industrial technology are plentiful. For example, Waste Management has over 100 unfilled diesel mechanic jobs. Wiese Corporation has a similar number of forklift technician vacancies. The JCCC should work with industry to expand its skilled trades programs. This is to invite collaborative members of the industry to develop relevant programs and obtain their sponsorship to reduce start-up costs. Tech jobs are also in high demand. In this area, the college should work with talent management companies and employers to develop curricula to better address labor shortages. Commercial freight lines need drivers like never before. These programs only take 4-9 weeks. The JCCC’s commercial driver’s license program needs to expand to meet market demand for these roles. All of these jobs are highly paid, which will create a strong incentive to attend the JCCC (solves the problem of declining enrollment) and return to the job market within a relatively short time frame, for example a certificate of completion in 18 months. .
On Thursday, we will publish the candidates’ answers to the following question:
JCCC has chosen to keep tuition fees stable during the pandemic. The current rate is $ 94 per credit hour for residents of Johnson County. Tuition fee income represents less than a fifth of the total college budget. Should the college consider raising or lowering tuition fees? Why? And what impact would either of these things have on the JCCC budget?