Kentucky Lt. Gov. Jerry Abramson was the keynote speaker at a special forum highlighting the Role of Higher Education in Workforce Development. The forum was held on Thursday (September 12) on the Prestonsburg campus of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
Abramson praised BSCTC for its commitment to higher education and having a retention rate that ranks second in the state, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education.
“This is a nurturing atmosphere. The faculty and staff lead with their brain and their heart,” said Abramson. “Business leaders tell me they would expand if they had the resources to stay competitive. It’s not about incentives – it’s about having a productive and skilled workforce,” added Abramson.
Dr. George D. Edwards, President/CEO of BSCTC, also served on the panel and discussed the functions of community colleges, such as transferring credits, technical education, general education, transitional education and workforce education.
“We are positive about the future, and what we can do in collaboration with our community partners to make eastern Kentucky a better place. Our institution is also looking at ways to reengineer our programs to changing industry needs,” commented Edwards.
Other participants included former Secretary of Education Laura Owens and Senator Ray S. Jones II.
Jones said the decline of the coal industry and loss of more than 5,000 jobs across the region has brought the need of accessible higher education to the forefront of the conversation across the state.
“We need quality and accessible higher education and Big Sandy Community and Technical College will play a key role in the transformation of our region. If we raise educational attainment that will transform our workforce,” said Jones.
Owens said that community colleges provide a unique environment because of its variety of offerings.
“Community colleges give students the opportunity to get a certificate, diploma and a degree, and they show you how to put it to work. It’s the collaboration of colleges and workforce that’s essential,” remarked Owens.
The forum was part of the college’s anniversary celebration with 2013 marking three milestone anniversaries – 75 years of service at the Mayo campus, 50 years as the former Prestonsburg Community College and 10 years as Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
(courtesy BSCTC press release)