I truly believe that education is the key to ending generational poverty. It is the ultimate liberator and pathway that will change the trajectory of your life and the lives of your family. Education is not merely defined by obtaining a degree, education today also means earning a workforce certification. In fact, Alamo Colleges offers over 300 different workforce certification opportunities to help an individual better their life.
With the Alamo Promise initiative gearing up to offering tuition free college, a student has the option to pursue a degree or seek a workforce certification. Districtwide projections hold that San Antonio college attainment rates will rise from 47% City wide to levels over 70% by 2025.
The goal has been set, and by announcing our objectives, Alamo Colleges is holding ourselves accountable to our community to reaching them. As your District 2 representative, I have a responsibility to ensure that we not only exceed those projections across the City but ensure we exceed those projections within the D2 community. Our opportunity to end generational poverty has arrived.
With multiple options to enter college readily available, the opening to seize this opportunity is within our community’s collective grasp. That is the “Good” news and the beacon of light, our hope, that will/can change the face of poverty in San Antonio in a relatively short amount of time. However, there are some potential pitfalls, areas of concern, that mandate our attention as we move forward. Allow me to elaborate.
The concern that has been bothering me specifically is addressing our workforce development strategies and support. As we create higher college going rates in San Antonio, will we have the employability and living wage jobs after they leave college? How are we helping our students in job placement, i.e., resume building, interview skills, helping students find jobs outside of the City or State, etc. The last thing anyone wants to see is a new graduate or new workforce certified student to struggle or be unable to find work in their respective field.
In all fairness, this is not a new problem. Alamo Colleges has gone above and beyond in their work in this area to date, however, as we increase capacity, meaning more students enrolling as a result of the Alamo Promise, will our strategies stand up to our enrollment or become obsolete. I am confident that they will not, but our lens must be in supporting and enhancing these areas for all Alamo Colleges students.
While attending a National conference in Washington DC, John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training, with the U.S. Department of Labor stated that “workforce development is a fixable problem.” He went on to state that we must build workforce system that recognize key competencies for those systems. For example, robotics is beginning to take certain jobs away from our labor force, Assistant Secretary Pallasch believes that we must train a workforce to build and maintain the robotic development. Although I may not entirely agree with him, he does hit one-point home with these remarks. As a College system it is incumbent on us to help students identify their strengths and interests and examine future workforce needs in order to continue providing relevant workforce certifications for high demand job areas.
Ultimately, we must work with City, County, State, and Federal government officials and entities to create the job market conditions and job opportunities for our increased number of college and workforce certification graduates.
It will take Board leadership to help create the vision and strategies/solutions that will adequately create and prepare student success beyond their time at Alamo Colleges. This is just another piece of the puzzle that will ultimately help our D2 community break the cycle of poverty. As you can see, it will be essential that we succeed. Once again feel free to call me if you want to share ideas or comment – 210.386.0075.