Gwinnett Technical College Community Forum Sets Course for Future of Technical Education
Michael F. Vollmer, the recently-appointed commissioner of Georgia’s Department of Technical and Adult Education (DTAE), provided an overview of the role technical colleges will be playing in the state’s educational infrastructure during a Community Forum at Gwinnett Technical College this week.
"Creating a trained and educated workforce for the 21st Century will be a key ingredient for the future prosperity of our state," Vollmer said.
He cited the technical college-high school relationship as one critical role technical colleges will play in the future of workforce development. Vollmer said that “of the 125,000 ninth-grade students enrolled in Georgia in 2000, only 72,000 graduated in 2003.” He said that technical colleges are positioned to directly address that problem by offering additional education opportunities for secondary students. Dual-enrollment measures could overcome such dropout rates, Vollmer said. Through dual enrollment programs students can earn credit both from high school and from a technical college while they are still in high school.
Vollmer also acknowledged the transitioning of Gwinnett Technical College to DTAE governance, which adds strength to the agency, creating a “true statewide system of technical colleges.”
Vollmer was appointed to his new role on Sept. 15, when Gov. Sonny Perdue named him head of the state's 34 technical colleges.
Leaders from state and local government, and business and industry stakeholders also shared insights and ideas on Gwinnett Tech’s strategic direction and the vital role of Gwinnett Technical College in the community.
Keynote speakers included, in addition to DTAE Commissioner Vollmer, Gwinnett Tech President Sharon Rigsby and Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Wayne Hill.
Rigsby provided an overview of the College’s strategic plan for 2005, which includes providing programs that are relevant to existing and future job markets, delivering services and resources in various and flexible ways, and serving business and industry by providing exceptional corporate education and corporate events.
“In short - we want to teach every adult and impact every business in the county, and hold onto our students for life,” Rigsby said.
Rigsby pointed to the college’s addition of the Early Childhood and Teacher Preparation Center, as an example of providing relevant programming for existing and future job markets. “It is just what this community needs to meet the growing demand for skilled early childhood teachers and K-3 paraprofessionals,” Rigsby said. Groundbreaking of the new facility is slated for spring, with doors opening for business in summer 2006.
Gwinnett Tech’s 2004-05 Board of Directors was also sworn in immediately preceding the Forum.