RCCC tries to look ahead when deciding to add classes
By Sarah Campbell
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College officials look at employment trends when deciding which programs to add to the collegeís curriculum.
Thatís why occupational therapist assistant and physical therapist assistant programs are likely to be added within the next year or two.
The occupations made the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics fastest growing occupations. Both fields are expected to add about 30 percent more jobs by 2018.
Rod Townley, vice president of academic programs, said the college uses that data and a combination of local and state statistics to determine which jobs will be in demand in the future.
But he said itís still tough to predict what programs to add.
ìI havenít seen a market as difficult to judge as this, so itís a very crystal ball experience,î Townley said. ìThe last thing we want to do is offer a program that is not going to have to demand to support it.î
The college is also planning to add certifications to its health and information technology programs.
Townley said that with electronic medical records laws taking effect soon, people in the health care field will need additional technology training.
ìWe have to prepare people to work in that environment,î he said.
And people who are already trained in information technology will need certifications to stay current on the latest trends. Townley said with technology touching virtually every part of life, there will be a need for trained people in that field for years to come.
ìIt takes a high skill level to keep those (computer) systems up and running, so itís a very growing demand,î he said.
Although college officials mentioned adding a dental hygienist program during its campaign for the $12 million bond referendum passed by voters last fall, that plan is no longer on go.
ìItís a very expensive program to get started and we are little uncertain about the demand versus the cost,î he said.
Townley said cost is a major consideration when adding a program. Space is one of the first things officials explore.
ìSpace is very expensive,î he said. ìWe also look at equipment and faculty salaries.î
It typically takes a year to get a new program under way, Townley said. The college must receive approval from its board of trustees and the State Board of Community Colleges before the planning process can get into full swing.
And Townley said the college is always trying to keep its finger on the pulse of local employment demands.
ìWeíre always looking at it,î he said. ìBut when I say itís like looking into a crystal ball, it really is,î he said.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.