November 30, 2009 by Joshua Wright
The Portland Business Journal last week released this look at the partnerships being formed in Oregon between local businesses and community colleges to offer workforce training in the wake of an influx of federal training dollars. The articles cites work done by EMSI, which determined that Oregon community colleges — 18 in all — generate $11 billion in annual income and see about 93% of their graduates stay in the area. In addition, taxpayers collect $4.60 for every dollar directed to community colleges.
Such returns become much more important during deep recessions. The reason: Community colleges tend to provide skills that help displaced workers make transitions to new careers.
“It’s a very good time for people to get skills not just for today but for the future,” said Camille Preus, the state’s community college commissioner.
Portland Community College, the state’s largest school, exemplifies the budding relationships between businesses and post-high school programs.
Since July 1, a Workforce Development Program overseen by Portland Community College for Washington County has served 1,620 low-income adults and 14,655 dislocated workers. Another 2,770 students have attended job search classes.