Monthly Column October 2019
Degrees Preparing Students for Workforce
To support the inland port in Murray County, Dalton State added a business degree in logistics and supply chain management. When industry leaders said they needed employees with a degree in sustainability, we added a degree in environmental and sustainability studies.
We have also added a bachelor’s in technology and technology management, financial technology minor, human resource management minor and business analytics minor. Our robust health care programs graduate nurses, respiratory therapists, radiologic technologists and more. And our School of Education prepares teachers, who are frequently hired locally.
Most recently we added the Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Technology degree to provide students with both the industrial and mechanical engineering skills to meet industry needs in Northwest Georgia. Students can begin taking classes in this field as early as January. Industry leaders report there are more than 100 job openings a year requiring the skills that will be taught in this program.
The list of degree programs to directly supply workforce needs will continue to grow because we want to graduate students with the skills to have successful careers in Northwest Georgia. It is important to us, as an institution that serves Northwest Georgia, to prepare graduates to fulfill workforce needs.
Dalton State serves the needs of our community and our region. The Dalton community and the Northwest Georgia region cannot thrive without an educated workforce and engaged population of leaders. Jobs today go unfilled because there are not enough qualified individuals available. And where will the future mayors, city and county council members, school board members, state and federal legislative representatives come from if we don’t invest in the youth of today? If we allow our youth to leave the region for higher education and employment or to remain without adequate education and skills for the local jobs, this community will most certainly decline.
I believe some students take their college days for granted. At Dalton State most students didn’t grow up in a culture where college is “just what you do” after high school. Our students know a college degree will increase their chances of obtaining and maintaining good jobs that will allow them to provide for their families without leaving this region. We all need them to be successful because they are our future.
This is what drives our work at Dalton State. In weekly conversations with local employers, we identify the jobs that need to be filled along with the technical and soft skills required in these career fields. We work to educate our students about these career opportunities and we design and offer degree programs that prepare our students to serve in these needed careers after graduation.
During the last 11 years, Dalton State’s enrollment has grown by 13 percent despite a shrinking population of college-aged people in this country. Over this same time period, our number of graduates has increased by 49 percent, and our number of four-year degree graduates has increased by a whopping 243 percent.
Additionally, surveys completed by our graduates from the 2018-2019 academic year tell us 80 percent of our students employed at graduation were working in the state and 67 percent inside Northwest Georgia.
Our goal is to ensure alignment among the employer needs of our community, the programs we offer and the curriculum that prepares our graduates to obtain these jobs in our community. The tuition for this extraordinary educational opportunity is among the most affordable in the nation.