Dr. Sarah Tucker, Chancellor of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia, testified today before the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, at a hearing on “STEM Education: Preparing Students for the Careers of Today and the Future.”
Both U.S. Senators Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, who reached out to Chancellor Tucker to speak, serve on the subcommittee. Chancellor Tucker recognized them as “strong allies for community colleges in West Virginia.”
Her remarks highlighted how STEM programs and business and industry partnerships are helping West Virginians get the education and training they need to succeed in today’s evolving economy.
“Our typical community college students in West Virginia have families to feed, mortgage and car payments, childcare issues, and sometimes parents for whom to care. Many are either out or work or are under-employed,” she told the committee. “These circumstances often cause our students to need to get into and out of a program that will lead to a high-wage career as quickly as possible. In West Virginia, nearly all of those careers are in the STEM fields.”
Chancellor Tucker noted that the four largest growth industry sectors in the Mountain State are manufacturing, health care, IT, and energy – all STEM areas – and that while STEM fields have historically been thought of as baccalaureate programs, community and technical colleges are becoming more critical for emerging STEM workforce needs.
That’s why, she said, federal support and collaboration on STEM-focused training opportunities are invaluable for community colleges in West Virginia and nationwide. She encouraged congressional support of federal programs that have proven effective, including National Dislocated Worker Training grants; year-round Pell grants; the GEAR UP program; TechHire; Career and Technical Education; and internships, apprenticeships, and workplace training programs.
“I cannot emphasize enough the value these programs provide,” Chancellor Tucker said. “Students, employers, schools, and communities have benefited significantly from them. Adults who have lost their jobs are getting a second chance. Youth who never thought they could attend college are doing just that. Together, we are changing lives.”
Watch the archived hearing at LINK.