Albany Tech President Dr. Anthony Parker: Why a Technical College Education?

Dr. Anthony O. Parker

Monday, July 17th, 2017

The demand for technical college graduates far exceeds the supply. For over 10 years, employers have sought 300 to 500 more graduates that Albany Technical College could provide. On any given day, there are approximately 75 job vacancies that could be filled by technical college graduates.
Skillsets acquired by Albany Technical College graduates correlate with Governor Deal’s HOPE Career Grant programs of study. These programs are available at Albany Tech as part of all the major categories that are in the strategic workforce initiatives grant, including our Center for Business Solutions’ Industrial Operations Technician program. Several graduates of this program have already landed great industry jobs and the list of success stories will only continue. Not only does this help our local industry, but helps those in our community to continue to thrive and provide better lives for their families.
Technical college graduates acquire skills that are relevant to the needs of the local community. Approximately 70 percent of Albany Tech’s graduates are employed within 30 miles of downtown Albany. They purchase homes, cars, and other durable good. They give to charities and pay tithes at our local churches. Our graduates shop and receive healthcare services in the community where they live. Technical college graduates pay taxes that correspond to their income and level of spending. Their living wage and gainful employment contribute to our well-being as a community.
The same technical college graduates provide needs relevant to those of the U.S. Military. Albany Technical College offers diploma programs that meet some of the needs of each branch of service. Technical college graduates can even earn enlistment bonuses of up to $40,000.
The competence of technical college graduates is supported through a warranty of graduate skillsets. Employers may complete a warranty claim form within one year of graduation to request that a student be re-educated on particular relevant skills, if they feel the graduate does not meet the standards required by their organization. The education would be completed at no cost to the employer or the graduate. In addition, work ethics are taught, evaluated, and reported. Work ethic grades are included in students’ transcripts.
The fact is technical college graduates are historically successful. For each year in the past 10 years, Albany Technical College has graduated over 2,000 students, placed over 94 percent in-field and positively placed 99 percent of our graduates overall.
Each Technical College System of Georgia college offers several pathways to four-year degrees. Over 30 Albany Technical programs have an associate degree option. Each associate degree graduate has a potential pathway agreement to nearly 10 four-year universities and that list continues to grow as we increase our partnerships.
Starting a technical education early is the key. High school students can enroll at Albany Technical College through the Move on When Ready program. MOWR students pay no tuition or fees and do not pay for textbooks. MOWR students can earn an associate’s degree and its workforce diploma equivalent while in high school. MOWR students earning a diploma may begin their career immediately after high school. Many MOWR associate degree graduates go immediately to work, while some transition to several four year colleges or universities.
Adults who have not earned a high school diploma can enroll in free adult education classes. Adult students could receive HOPE or PELL financial aid provided through the Ability to Benefit program. Adult students may enroll in ATB through a combination of high school graduation or GED attainment, along with an adequate score on the admissions test. Non-high school graduates who are adults, can take advantage of ATB by enrolling in adult education while enrolling in one of 15 diploma programs. Scholarships are also available to qualifying GED students.
Technical college graduates are likely to work for employers who provide health insurance. We estimate that 90 percent of our graduates will go to work in a job that will afford them health insurance. With the rising cost of healthcare and the need for more healthcare services, this is great news to help our local economy now and for years to come.
Technical education is essentially for everyone. For the high school student wanting to gain a jumpstart on college, it’s the best place to start. For the undecided student in their late 20’s or early 30’s trying to find their niche in the workplace, it’s the perfect choice to discover strengths and gain a competitive edge in the workforce. For the non-traditional student returning back to gain skills, technical education provides a host of options.
We challenge everyone in Southwest Georgia to take another look at all the advantages offered through technical education.