Hocking College Explores Program Options In High-Demand Industries

By
Arian Smedley - Athens Messenger staff reporter

Dateline
Updated Thu, Oct 3, 2013 10:50 am

Technical colleges have an obligation to have a clear understanding of what is a high-demand profession now and in the future, and Hocking College is no exception. That’s why college officials asked a research company to produce a report identifying high-growth areas for possible development or expansion at the two-year college.

“The report is one piece of a puzzle in terms of program planning,” said Carl Bridges, Hocking College’s provost and vice president of Academic and Student Affairs.

According to the report, which was prepared by Hanover Research, the two industries that will shape Ohio’s labor market in the coming years are nursing and shale gas.

The healthcare industry will account for a substantial portion of job growth through 2020, especially occupations related to nursing, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants, states the report.

However, a 2009 report from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services projected there will be a surplus of registered nurses and licensed practical nurses entering the workforce through 2016. By contrast, nursing aides, orderlies and attendants will face a shortfall.

Hocking College already has an established nursing program in place.

“It’s always nice to get confirmation that we’re moving in the right direction,” Bridges said.

Shale drilling has become a high-growth industry in Ohio and is poised to add thousands of high-paying jobs, states the report. According to ODJFS, employment in core shale-related industries rose 15.5 percent in the year leading to June 2012. In southeast Ohio, it rose 21.5 percent.

While Hocking College does offer a program in geoenvironmental science, it doesn’t offer anything specific to the shale gas industry. It’s too early to tell whether the college will move in that direction, but Bridges did say the statistics related to that future job market “jumped out” for him.

With the college’s steady drop in enrollment (enrollment has been declining at Hocking College since 2010), program offerings will be a key part in helping the college grow in the future, Bridges said.

“I think this information is going to be critical,” he said. “We’re going to look at the programs we’re offering and ask ourselves, ‘Are we attracting students?’ This will be critical for the overall health of the institution and what we need to do to move forward."

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