Salisbury Rising: We have the educational tools in place to succeed

What is Wor-Wic’s role in the community and how can we help students, workers and businesses in the “new economy?”

Wor-Wic Community College is a tremendous asset to the community. It is where local people come to learn a new skill, upgrade their current skills, acquire a certification, earn a degree or complete the first two years of a four-year degree.

Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college. Many are older, working full or part time and taking care of families. But this isn’t just about the individual students. A well-educated workforce is crucial to our current and prospective businesses and to our economy as a whole. We have to understand that the core of our workforce can’t be made up of just high school graduates, but it isn’t going to be all young people with four-year degrees either. It has to include young people getting postsecondary education and older adults going back to school to earn new skills to begin new careers. That’s what Wor-Wic offers – an accessible opportunity for local citizens to advance their education and skills.

Wor-Wic serves over 10,000 local citizens each year. Sixty percent of registered nurses on the Eastern Shore are Wor-Wic graduates and all new, and many existing, law enforcement officers (about 1,000 per year from 80 different agencies) are trained here. Most of the region’s radiologic technologists are Wor-Wic graduates. More than 50 percent of the emergency medical services workers on the Lower Eastern Shore were trained at Wor-Wic. Wor-Wic produces about 150 new certified nursing assistants each year. The new economy is made up of these types of “middle-skill” jobs that require some college, but not necessarily a four-year degree. Wor-Wic fills this need.

In order to ensure that Wor-Wic teaches what local employers need, every one of our credit programs has a local advisory committee composed of representatives of the businesses and industries that each program serves. This joint college-community effort results in programs that are designed to prepare graduates for positions in the local job market or for further study at four-year institutions.

The economic impact of the college, due in large part to the education and training of the graduates who stay and work in the community, is over $149 million annually. Wor-Wic graduates stay in our community, building the tax base and filling critical jobs for local employers.

With Wor-Wic’s training and education, local businesses and prospective businesses should never consider an inadequately-prepared workforce as an impediment to their success. We can help employers close the skills gap within their industry sector. In partnership with individual businesses and/or sectors, we can provide training with specific content that addresses their skill shortages.

Our programs are developed to address local workforce needs and we teach skills that local employers require, as well as the soft skills employees need to get along and advance in the workplace. Last year, over 300 employers paid the tuition for more than 3,000 employees to take courses through Wor-Wic, either here or at their business, in order to upgrade their skills.

Employers know the competencies they need their employees to master. We have extensive expertise in course design. So, we custom design coursework to address their training needs. We can help by up-skilling their incumbent workforce, or preparing their new employees.

I encourage anyone interested in furthering their education or anyone looking for training for their employees to contact us. We are here to help.

Ray Hoy is President of Wor-Wic Community College. Reach him at rhoy@worwic.edu.

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