Since 2005, leadership at the Dallas County Community College District has emphasized a rigorous process to justify new training programs. At the heart of the internal system are data-driven measures on the region, provided by EMSI.
DCCCD represents seven two-year colleges dispersed throughout a county of nearly 2.5 million people in Northeast Texas. Serving such a populous county presents its own set of challenges to district officials, particularly in trying to determine which programs are needed at which colleges.
Don Perry, the district’s Executive Director of Workforce Education and Compliance, sums up the situation this way: “Always a challenge that we have is to show the employment need of a program, and where exactly is that employment need within Dallas County.”
To answer those questions, DCCCD uses EMSI’s Analyst to generate presentation-ready reports and maps on the region’s industries, occupations, demographics, and existing programs—at the most detailed geographic level available.
“The colleges have to generate maps that show the concentration of where jobs are within Dallas County,” Perry says. “And so EMSI data is considered by most of our colleges to be the most beneficial and helpful information when they are documenting the need for new programs.”
Recent new training that’s been developed at DCCCD includes an environmental systems program at Richland College; fire science technology programs at Cedar Valley College and El Centro College; and an international nursing bridge program at Brookhaven College that helps foreign students learn the specifics of nursing in the U.S. and Texas.
These new programs have sprung up as DCCCD has become the largest community college district in Texas in terms of enrollment. And with each of the new offerings, Perry says data justification was critical.
“If one college proposes a new program, they’ve got to justify that one college is sufficient to meet the need. If the data indicates that one college’s program is not sufficient to meet the need, we look at the geographic position of where employers are. It helps us see what other college might be legitimate partner to offer the program.”