Paris Junior College representatives were among the more than 260 regional business, education and industry leaders who gathered recently at Texarkana College to hear about the bold higher education strategic plan, 60x30TX, set forth by Governor Greg Abbott to build and sustain a skilled workforce for Texas.
“The bottom line,” said PJC President Dr. Pam Anglin, “is that by 2030 at least 60 percent of our 25- to 34-year-olds should have a certificate, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree in order to have the workforce that we need to maintain a healthy economy in the state of Texas. Currently the state is at 38 percent. This region of the state is much, much lower. We’re at less than 20 percent in these nine counties all along the Red River.”
“To actually meet the growing demand for a skilled workforce in Texas, we need to reach the goal even sooner than 2030,” Texas Workforce Commission Chairman Andres Alcantar said. “There are more jobs available here in Texas than available skilled workforce, and we must help steer our young people toward employment and brighter futures.”
Alcantar said that the Texas economy is thriving and very diversified, and training programs that can quickly respond to business and industry growth are central to sustaining the state’s economic future. He added that community colleges are key partners in attaining 60x30TX because of their ability in responding to workforce training needs.
“In the past decade, less than one percent of jobs created did not require some type of post-secondary education credential,” Alcantar said. “This means that students who earn at a minimum some type of technical certification will be more likely to land a job than people who hold only a high school diploma. It’s not just about ‘going’ to college anymore; it’s about completing a practical program that leads to marketable skills.”
Paris Junior College and Northeast Texas Community College joined with Texarkana College and Workforce Solutions Northeast Texas to kick off the initiative in this region and help stakeholders learn how to participate.
“We’ve must get our public schools, businesses, industry and communities to buy into it,” Dr. Anglin said. “A high school diploma is no longer adequate; students must have a higher level of workplace skills than in the past. That doesn’t always mean a bachelor’s degree. It is going to take everyone working together to make this happen and our future and the economic future and viability of this region depends on us increasing the educational attainment level of our population.”
Residents of the Northeast Texas region are urged to play a part in spreading the word about the importance of earning a college credential. A college credential includes completion of post-secondary coursework leading to a workforce certificate or degree from a community college or four-year institution. There are several ways to participate in 60x30TX day:
• Talk to your family, friends and coworkers about the importance of earning a college degree or certificate.
• Share the 60x30TX video found on the website http://www.60x30NETX.com with your friends and family on social media.
• Help a young person make a plan for college —it’s never too early to start planning.
• Post about the importance of earning a college degree or certificate on social media using the hashtag #60x30NETX. Tag #ParisJC so we can share, too!
• Tell others that “college” doesn’t always mean a 4-year bachelor’s degree - this challenge includes everything from a 5-week truck driving credential to a Ph.D., and everything in between!
• Add “60x30TX: Building a College-Going Culture in Northeast Texas” to your marquee.
• Host a 60x30TX Signing Day at your business/school.
• Schedule a time for a college representative, student or alumni to speak to your employees and/or students about 60x30TX.
For more information or to request a speaker, call the PJC Office of the President at 903-782-0330.
— PJC-Sulphur Springs Center Public Information Services