By STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ McGAVIN
Capital News Service
LANSING — Community colleges serve as educational stepping-stones to higher learning institutions and trade schools, creating a gateway for students who want to advance their education, enter the workforce or simply enrich their skills. The trade aspect of a job training program creates an opportunity for students to efficiently become part of the workforce, said Wayne Rodgers, a welding and fabrication professor in the job training program at Grand Rapids Community College. “Everything that we do out there in a manufacturing industry doesn’t take a four-year degree — it takes a specific skill,” said Rodgers. “To have a person take the additional humanities makes them well-rounded, but it keeps them out of the workforce.”
Rodgers estimated about 10 to 15 percent of the students in the non-credit job training program continue onto credit-bearing programs so they can obtain their associate’s degree. Other than that, Rodgers said the heart of community colleges is in technical work.