Obama’s Plan could offer a boost of funding in the midst of pervasive cuts from the state level, at the very time more North Carolinians are losing textile and other production jobs and signing up for classes.
RCC President Dr. Sharon Morrissey recently spoke of the challenge the institution faces in budgeting for reductions in funding while anticipating record enrollment in the Fall of 2009.
“While our funds are being cut, our enrollment is going up,” Morrissey wrote. “Why? Because when unemployment goes up, our enrollment goes up.”
Displaced workers, as defined by NAFTA, are people who lost their jobs due directly to international competition in the marketplace. They are offered unemployment checks and other benefits to attend community colleges and retrain in another field.
Many of those who were laid off by Sara Lee Hosiery chose to attend classes and are now graduated or close to being so. At least some of the approximately 200 people laid off by UCO last year are planning to attend in the Fall semester, college officials say.
However, RCC Counselor Tim Harris pointed out that while displaced worker enrollment is up, so is enrollment among virtually every group of students.
“You name it, we see it coming in the door,” RCC Counselor Tim Harris said. “Students right out of high school, dislocated workers, and students returning after being out of school awhile. We’re seeing a number of people very capable of going to college anywhere in the country, but because of the economic concerns of our state, they are coming here.
“They can afford to go off to school, but have just realized they can basically get the first two years of college here at a tenth of the cost.”
Obama used the auto industry as an analogy for the manufacturing jobs being exported by the American economy.
“The hard truth is that some of the jobs that have been lost in the auto industry and elsewhere won’t be coming back,” Obama said. “They are the casualties of a changing economy.”
An onus will be placed on training people for the jobs expected to come with the clean energy industry when the economy turns around, according to an AP report. Other reports of the plan have it including a goal of five million more community college graduates by 2020.
It would work through competitive grants for new programs or expanded training and counseling, and be paid for by ending subsidies to banks and private student loan lenders.
High dropout rates at the two-year institutions would be addressed through new programs to track students and help them earn an associate’s degree or finish their education at a four-year institution.
There will also be money available to renovate and rebuild facilities, and add on-line courses to increase schools’ catalogues.