WVU Study: Pierpont Community and Technical College, ATC making big economic impact
This article was originally written by Kailee E. Gallahan and published The Fairmont News website on March 29, 2017.
Community colleges are beginning to receive more attention as students realize they are able to receive certification and degrees in a shorter period of time for less money.
Not only do the colleges provide quick and cheaper education for students, it also means they have the opportunity to contribute to society more rapidly.
In an economic impact study completed by West Virginia University, it was found that the economic impact and return-on-investment of Pierpont Community & Technical College and its Advanced Technology Center has totaled $33.9 million, President Dr. Johnny Moore said.
“We are one of few facilities in the state that have developed great working relationships with area companies, who have become part of our daily classroom instruction,” Moore said.
Moore said Pierpont’s mission is to serve the community and meet its needs in terms of education and job placement.
Students in Pierpont programs are able to receive hands-on experience in the field before graduation, something that is important to many of the college’s partner employers.
“Pierpont programs have a 98-percent job-placement rate, and in some programs 100 percent,” he said. “In our health careers programs, we have had 100 percent of our students pass in the phlebotomy and medical assistant programs,” he said.
Pierpont is one of the most versatile institutions in West Virginia in terms of program content and program length, he said. Currently, a cybersecurity program is in the works for the 2017-18 school year.
“We have programs anywhere from eight to 16 weeks, as well as one- and two-year programs,” Moore said. “Pierpont wants to offer the most convenient options to those necessary.”
In the School of Workforce Development at Pierpont ATC, students are gaining knowledge needed for lifelong careers, according to Jhaye Jones, program coordinator.
The program is not only providing excellent education for students, but excellent opportunities for employment, he said.
With a 98-percent job-placement rate, Jones said his students are employed upon graduation with subsidiaries of FirstEnergy, a company with which Pierpont has developed a close relationship.
“We are talking careers with excellent starting wages and benefits and opportunities to move up in the field,” Jones said. “These aren’t just short-term opportunities, these are careers.”
Jones said the college maintains connections throughout the years in order to determine what demand is needed in the workforce. Programs then are tailored to that information.
The college works to provide equipment and students in these programs, and “we make sure that we do not go over the market with individuals if there is not a need for people in that field,” he said.
While enrolled in programs at the ATC, Jones said students have the ability to work on equipment they will use in the field. He said this is a great benefit before they start their careers.
“With the state on the road to recovery and the economy growing, we will have to move forward and keep providing individuals with job opportunities,” he said. “Our mission is to help build the community. And with a continually growing retention rate and interest in our programs, we are doing just that.”
The Advanced Technology Center offers electrical utilities technology, applied process technology, petroleum technology, as well as healthcare opportunities such as radiology technician, veterinary technology, physical therapy assistant, laboratory assistant, medical laboratory assistant, health information technology and medical administrative assistant programs.
Vickie Findley, interim dean of Health Careers, said the programs vary based on location, but the health field is ever-growing.
“We are currently working to develop and receive accreditation for a respiratory therapy program that will be offered sometime in the future,” she said.
With a 100 percent job placement rate, Findley said she sees a demand in the health careers field, and new students are always enrolling in the college.
In the future, Moore said he would like to see the mission of community colleges reach more people and see what they can do for the economic outlook of the state.
“I want to show those in West Virginia that while the community college system is relatively young, we need to take advantage of these resources and opportunities and get into the workforce at a quicker speed,” he said. “This is the way that we can build our economy.”
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