SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

March 4, 2013

Column: Investing in higher education

(Continued)

In Massachusetts, for example, we know that within five years, 70 percent of the jobs in the commonwealth will require a postsecondary education. We also know that nine out of 10 of our public college graduates will remain in the state. Companies large and small are experiencing shortages in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math), as well as health care and finance. In light of the above, what choice does Gov. Deval Patrick have but to propose additional investment in the educational infrastructure, the competitive advantage Massachusetts enjoys that keeps us in the lead on most economic indicators for the U.S. The truth is state and local taxes in Massachusetts have dropped 26 percent since 1977, the biggest decline in any state except Arizona (source: Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center). We can afford to pay a bit more for education and transportation investments that all of us — including business and industry — benefit from. While Mr. Lutts worries about a modest uptick in income taxes, I worry about businesses fleeing the state because they can’t find the skilled workers needed to fill jobs. Brainpower is our most precious asset in the marketplace, essential to economic growth.

I can assure Rob that our colleges have taken all the steps he suggests with regard to becoming as efficient as possible. With our appropriation about the same as it was in 2001, here’s what we produce at NSCC in 2013:

The 1,143 degrees and certificates awarded in 2012 represent a 58 percent increase over the past 10 years;

92 percent of our graduates report being employed in their field of study within the first six months of graduation;

78 percent of our students are successful in six years in that they earn a degree or certificate, transferred, are still enrolled or have earned at least 30 credits;

98 percent of students successfully transfer their credits to NSCC from other Massachusetts community colleges;

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