Statement of the Hon. Jason Crow on The Community College to Small Business Pipeline
Washington, November 4, 2021
Thank you to all our witnesses for being here today. It's great to be joined by representatives from community colleges across the country. I believe that America's community college system is one of the underappreciated strengths of our great education system.
The United States' university system is widely regarded as the best globally, but a 4-year degree isn't for everyone. At the same time, Americans must obtain the education they need to embark on good-paying careers that allow them to support themselves and their family.
That is where community colleges come in. These institutions are pillars of their communities, helping to provide affordable and practical educations that equip students with the skills needed to contribute to the modern economy. As the U.S. recovers from COVID, the role of community colleges has never been more critical. COVID has radically changed the nature of work in our country and the preferences and desires of the labor force.
Nearly a third of U.S. workers under 40 years old have thought about changing their occupation or field since the start of COVID. This has led to high quit rates and workers hungry for new skills to find new work. For many of those switching careers, community college might be the best place to obtain the skills needed to transition.
Community colleges offer many "Noncredit courses", focused solely on building skills applicable in the workplace. These efficient, affordable courses are often designed in consultation with local businesses and workforce boards. As a result, the curriculum is hyper-focused on training workers specifically for certain businesses or industries.
Many Americans are also eschewing traditional 9 to 5's to start their own businesses. In 2020, Americans filed paperwork to start 4.3 million new businesses. This is by far the highest this figure has been over the past 15 years.
With so many budding entrepreneurs, we must ensure they have ample access to the training and resources necessary to succeed. Community colleges can help with that as well. Many community colleges have created entrepreneurship centers that offer a wide range of training and technical assistance initiatives.
From developing a business plan to conducting market analysis, these centers can guide students through all the different facets of launching an enterprise. In turn, students often create businesses in their communities, bolstering the local economy.
These are just some of the significant benefits that community colleges provide. I hope that today's hearing allows us to explore how we can utilize these institutions as we rebuild the American economy and retool the workforce.