Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges president & CEO Elizabeth Bolden and leaders from Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges today expressed disappointment that the 2019-20 fiscal year budget proposed by Gov. Tom Wolf does not provide an operating or capital funding increase for the colleges.
“No increase was proposed for community colleges, despite being the largest provider of postsecondary education in the Commonwealth and a sector that plays a significant role in the Commonwealth’s education and workforce development systems,” said Elizabeth Bolden, president & CEO of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges. “In 2017-2018, Pennsylvania community colleges trained more than 312,000 students in academic, career and technical programs and are well-positioned to grow these programs as demand for training increases – but the colleges need funding to make it happen.”
Gov. Wolf indicated that Pennsylvania needs to address the skills gap to ensure that Pennsylvania has a well-trained workforce. He established a goal of 60 percent of Pennsylvania residents having some form of postsecondary education by 2025. Bolden urged Gov. Wolf and policymakers to leverage the experience and expertise of community colleges in meeting these goals.
Pennsylvania community colleges offer high-quality education and workforce programs aligned with areas of critical workforce needs across the Commonwealth. The 14 colleges regularly consult with business partners – such as Shell in western Pennsylvania, Greiner Packaging in eastern Pennsylvania and AMES Reese in central Pennsylvania – to develop programs to meet state and local workforce needs, while fueling Pennsylvania’s economic recovery. The colleges also educate the Commonwealth’s firefighters, healthcare workers, welders and truck drivers, as well as offering much needed training in other in-demand fields.
“Pennsylvania community colleges are ready to assist individuals who want to improve their lives by earning a certificate, enrolling in technical training or preparing for further education,” said Bolden. “The colleges are committed to increasing access to quality, affordable higher education in the Commonwealth. We hope the General Assembly will support us in this mission by increasing funding for community colleges.”