Enrollment at Wake Technical Community College is rising and state support may be shrinking, so college officials headed to Washington on Wednesday to seek help from the people on the front lines of the battle against the recession.
Wake Tech President Stephen Scott led the group that planned to call on the state’s senators and representatives to present a wish list for funding that the college says will help it equip people to compete for jobs.
In normal times, 60,000 people enroll at Wake Tech every year, but community college enrollment rises when the economy turns down. Enrollment is already up 14 percent this spring compared with the same time in 2008 as people seek new skills they can take to the job market.
"You just have to get a degree and hope that there is an opportunity waiting, even with the economy being as down as it is," Wake student Candace McKoy said.
More students means more tuition, but that is not enough to cover costs. Community colleges usually get about a third of their funding from the state, but North Carolina might not have that money this year as the governor and Legislature face yawning budget deficits for the current and coming fiscal years.
To support the work that Wake Tech wants to do, Scott and others are turning to the federal government.
Wake Tech’s wish list includes:
- $840,000 for high-growth jobs such as green car technologies and simulation and video game development
- Nearly $800,000 for the Health Sciences Center for fast-track careers in health care
- $700,000 to enhance its the Public Safety Training Center with new simulated training for police and emergency workers.