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Bachelor’s for community college students

Pierce College is leading the way in solving labor shortages while uplifting students.

Opinion by Isaac Dektor, Editor-in-Chief

Offering bachelor’s degrees at community colleges is the key to filling critical gaps in the workforce while adapting to the needs of the changing job market.

Pierce College recently took a bold step in this direction by launching a biomanufacturing educational program that culminates in a four-year degree — the first bachelor’s degree to be offered at any LACCD campus.

As the U.S. experiences labor shortages in nursing, biomanufacturing and other industries, many of which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, community colleges should search for ways to provide students with advanced degrees that meet the demands of the modern job market.

In 2021, when COVID-19 vaccination production was in full swing, Moderna and Pfizer reported having trouble recruiting skilled workers. As the nascent mRNA vaccines were mandated in many countries and distributed around the world, a huge demand for biomanufacturing workers emerged.

“Biotech is not just a growing industry, but a critical one, as we have seen from the innovations that helped fight against diseases like COVID,” said Congressman Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks) in a statement about Pierce’s new program.

Biomanufacturing can not be learned on the job — it requires knowledge and expertise in bioprocessing techniques as well as hands-on experience with specialized equipment — all of which requires teachers, classes and facilities. While a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily required for entry-level biomanufacturing jobs, a four-year degree, at a minimum, is mandatory for upward mobility in the industry.

Workers trained in biomanufacturing make, on average, $20,000 more a year than bachelor’s degree holders in the United States. Training community college students in well-paying fields should be a main objective for community colleges — providing upward socioeconomic mobility to those who need it most.

“Soon, all students will be able to pursue this high-growth profession and career, and earn a bachelor’s degree at a fraction of the cost as compared to four-year institutions,” said LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez.

Community colleges are by and large more accessible than state universities, and they should offer lucrative careers through an efficient school-to-workplace pipeline as an option for their students. It’s a win-win; specialized jobs that are in desperate need of workers will be filled faster and community college students can reap the rewards of entering a booming industry with a high demand for labor.

It is not just biomanufacturing that needs personnel, labor shortages in many fields are on the horizon.

The Bureau of Labor estimates that 275,000 additional nurses will be needed in the next seven years. There could be a shortage of 124,000 physicians by 2034.

COVID-19 pushed hospital capacities to the limit as nurses and doctors worked overtime to keep up with patient intake. People cheered on healthcare professionals as they went to and from work. For America’s practitioners, it was a stethoscope examination that barely found a pulse.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, nearly 40 percent of registered nurses in 2020 held an associate’s degree. Valley College’s nursing program is known for producing a significant amount of nurses for the workforce, demonstrating a high pass rate on the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. But the healthcare system is changing rapidly, and more and more employers are requiring a bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges should look into creating similar programs to Pierce’s biomanufacturing degree so that students can achieve a four-year degree without having to uproot themselves to attend a state university but still enter specialized fields that pay well.

1 Comment

Adam Stephens
Adam Stephens
Dec 15, 2023

A bachelor's degree for local college students is of course important, but one should not forget that sometimes even getting into such colleges is very difficult, especially if the applicant does not know how to write sop. Personally, when I applied to a similar college, I used a service that provides sop writing services usa. Thanks to this service, I was able to enter this college the first time and successfully complete my bachelor's degree.

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