North Carolina community colleges faculty, staff salary increase

North Carolina, like our nation, is in a unique place. While COVID-19 has certainly eased its grip, it goes without saying that the impact of the virus will be felt for a long time to come. The virus is not the only driver of change we face. Business and industry are demanding more skills from their employees than ever before as advanced technology permeates the workplace. And baby boomers are retiring in record time. According to Korn Ferry, 10,000 people will reach retirement age every day in the next 16 years.

As if that weren’t enough, we are short of skilled workers to meet current employment needs, especially in healthcare and IT-related careers. By the way, have you tried to hire a plumber lately? If you haven’t, you could be in for a big surprise. Not only plumbing, but there are also shortages in other skilled occupations, including electrical and carpentry. The need is greater than the availability of skilled labour.

The solution to the above problems is community colleges. There has never been a time in our history when community colleges were more in demand than they are now.

Unfortunately, the salaries of teachers and staff are becoming less attractive. There are more than 1,000 community colleges in our country, with North Carolina in the top three systems in size, but near the bottom in salaries. That begs the question: How do community colleges in North Carolina stay competitive? Part of that answer is to retain and recruit well-qualified faculty and staff to prepare for the hundreds of thousands of students we enroll each year.

That said, it’s clear to me that our legislators rightly value community colleges and the important role they play in the workforce and economic development. I welcome that. Community colleges are the most important asset in the state to help rebuild our economy.

I hope that during this year’s budget process, our heads of state will consider the salaries of teachers and community college staff as a priority.

Roslyn Crisp, DDS, is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alamance Community College.

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