Albany Tech Provides the New Gold Standard
Wednesday, September 26th, 2012
Albany Technical College has experienced an increase in enrollment since 2000, growing from about 2,500 students to more than 4,000, according to ATC President Dr. Anthony Parker. More importantly, the number of graduates has increased, as has the placement rate.
"Employers continue to come to us with open positions and unmet needs. And now more people realize they need one to two years of college education at a minimum to get a job that provides a living wage. That is the new gold standard," Parker said.
"It used to be with a high school education you could start a career with a good rate of pay. That's not the case any longer."
Albany Technical College is a public post-secondary institution of the Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) that provides technical education and training support for evolving workforce development needs of Southwest Georgia. ATC celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Expect Substantial Change
According to Parker, "if you don't expect substantial change then you will be obsolete." He cites as an example the changes from ink and paper to personal computers in graphics programs and drafting programs.
"An automotive graduate from 10 years ago couldn't work on cars today. Programs change so substantially that even graduates don't recognize it," Parker said.
Among the most popular programs currently at ATC are those in law enforcement, child development, automotive technology and health information technology. According to Parker, ATC is also seeing significant growth in the areas of telecommunications engineering, civil engineering and electromechanical engineering technology. Newer programs an associate of science in nursing program, as well as expansion of the fire science program.
"We make an equitable investment in all our programs based on faculty input. It's typically a five- to six-year cycle for most programs in terms of needing upgrades in labs and equipment," Parker said.
"Each program has to provide a proven value-add for students by graduating and placing a certified percentage of enrollees. While we could expand some programs and enroll more, if the jobs aren't there we won't do it."
Albany Better Than Most
ATC relies on its partners in the business community, according to Parker, to understand what the college is doing well and what it needs to do differently.
"We (ATC) have to be joiners and become part of the Chambers of Commerce and Rotary Clubs. We rely on the business community to tell us what they need and Albany does this better than most," Parker said.
"We also have advisory committees for all of our programs made up of leaders in specific fields to help us see what's next on the horizon. And we send out formal surveys asking for input on what to expect five to seven years out."
Parker encourages business leaders with specific suggestions or ideas to contact him directly. He can be reached via the ATC website at http://www.albanytech.edu/index.php?option=com_chronocontact&Itemid=119. More information on Albany Technical College is available at www.albanytech.edu.