President/CEO Heather Briccetti Esq., recently penned an op/ed in the Westchester County Business Journal discussing the importance of meeting our diverse employment needs.
The op/ed is below:
Proprietary Colleges are Key to Meeting Our Employment Needs
By Heather Briccetti
Among the greatest challenges facing employers in today’s near full-employment economy is securing qualified candidates to support their local needs – this includes those supporting core business roles such as those in high-demand STEM careers, healthcare, advanced manufacturing and information technology.
Job candidates who have earned a degree that combines an education with real-world experience are among the most attractive to employers.
Today, there is an unrelenting demand for middle skilled employees, those who have some post-secondary education, but not a bachelor’s degree. State reported data supports the proprietary sector’s success in leading all sectors of higher-ed in particular in the area of on-time completion of associate’s degrees.
However, as proposed in the Executive Budget, 26,000 students working toward their degrees within the proprietary college sector may no longer be eligible for various state and federal financial aid programs such as Pell, TAP, ETA or student loans – and as a result unable to complete their programs, limiting choice and reducing skill-development opportunities for New Yorkers. These students are enrolled in outstanding programs
These students are enrolled in outstanding programs bolstered by industry professionals both inside the class room and in various internship and workplace experiences across the state. This includes students attending well-known local institutions such as The College of Westchester and Monroe College. The College of Westchester was established in 1915, and last year awarded 337 degrees in programs ranging from accounting to medical assisting. Monroe College, with campuses in downtown New Rochelle and the Bronx, has a history dating back to 1933. In 2018, Monroe conferred 2,600 degrees including associates, bachelors and graduate degrees in programs ranging from culinary arts to criminal justice.
This proposal – which carries no budget impact – is counterproductive, and I am concerned that it was developed in response to several disturbing cases in other states, which obviously operated outside New York’s robust regulatory framework. In fact, our State Education Department serves to ensure the quality and standards of programs at proprietary colleges – applying the same standards as those in the public and independent college sectors.
A law that will eliminate an entire sector of higher education, with a positive record of success, is the last thing the state’s employers need when finding and retaining skilled talent is as challenging as it has been in decades.
It is important to note that many of the colleges in New York’s proprietary sector were founded over a hundred years ago, at a time when family-owned colleges were more common, and a number have remained family-owned. As such, they are privately owned, and have never pursued a non-profit status because they were successful and never saw a reason to change (as many other private institutions have). In addition to their educational role, these institutions also contribute positively to state and local revenues.
Among the facts I know about this sector that I find reaffirming are the students that attend these colleges are making a difference in New York State – they not only are studying here, but 9 out of 10 remain after graduation to a build a future in New York.
These colleges will help ensure our economic and business success. We need these students and the degree granting colleges that prepare them for our workforce now, more than ever.