College Education as a Path Out of Poverty: The Workforce Development Role of Local Colleges, and the Barriers to Access & Success

Over 1.3 million working-age Marylanders lack a college degree, and more education could help many of them move into high-demand, better-paying jobs. Maryland colleges strive to provide these opportunities to students from all backgrounds, but major barriers stand in the way. With high tuition and limited need-based financial aid, cost is often a gatekeeper, particularly for working adults. Students who do enroll are often under-prepared, and struggle to move past developmental coursework.

On June 17th, JOTF held a forum to discuss the workforce development role of local community colleges, and the strategies for moving students more smoothly through the education pipeline and into the workforce. Patty Keeton, Executive Director of Workforce Development at Howard Community College, provided an overview of the work done by community colleges, ranging from degree programs to contract training. Andrea Payne, Policy Analyst at JOTF,discussed the barriers facing Maryland students, as described in JOTF’s latest Issue Brief, Patching the Leaky Pipeline: Helping Low-Skill Marylanders Access & Succeed in College.

Deborah Peoples, Director of Continuing Education at Baltimore City Community College, and Donna McKusick, Dean of Developmental Education at the Community College of Baltimore County, followed with an overview of promising practices for moving students ahead—both through student supports, and non-traditional approaches to developmental education.

For more information on the event, or to request copies of the presentations, please contact Andrea Payne at 410-234-8303.

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