JOE Talk - I'm doing fine ... So what's the problem? (Aug. 20, 2014)




Thanks Kay.

Thank you so much, it's great to be at Richland College.

Thank you.

Great to see all of you today, and it really has been an exciting few months for me, as I've had the opportunity to travel throughout the district, spend time on our campuses, get to know our faculty, staff, and students. And one of the things that I've noticed as I drive around the district that certainly we live in a community today that is prospering.

And one of the things as I talk to folks, that I want to talk with you about today, it seems like a lot of people today throughout our district and throughout our communities are really doing well.

So it begs the question, what are the problems that we face, that individuals face, that employers face, and why are community colleges more essential today than any time in my career and certainly I think in any time in the history of community colleges. And the reality is, things are good.

When I read the headlines, I see that the things about the growth of jobs in Texas.

The growth of jobs in Dallas. Hiring exploding. As I drive around, I literally see banners hanging off of buildings and billboards advertising the need.

For individuals with skills to help businesses be successful. And we've seen in fact a tremendous growth.

Whole cranes on the horizons.

Buildings going up everywhere.

Last year, Dallas had the fourth largest growth in jobs in the nation, with over 100,000 jobs.

This year we're on pace to be number three in the nation with roughly 126,000 new jobs being created throughout the district. And that would really speak to the impact that the economy is having on individuals on businesses and normally when we see this happen, everybody grows.

Everyone prospers as a result.

So what's the problem?

There's a whole other set of headlines that we're seeing in the paper today, and that we're, we're observing on television.

And that's that not everyone is participating in the economy.

Not everyone is benefitting from the boom.

There are people in fact being left behind.

And we see headlines where the mayor has created a poverty task force, that this is such an important issue, that our many of our organizations have come together and rallied around what can we what can we do to help this?

In fact the Dallas Morning News had a whole insert and section just talking about what's occurring with poverty, and how 40% of our population as adults are on the brink right now, on the brink of entering poverty or already in poverty at any one time.

They're essentially one crisis, one illness, one automobile wreck, one loss of job away from poverty. And when we talk about poverty we're not talking about a middle class wage, which is usually $31,000 to 35,000, $36,000.

We're talking about for a family of four, $20,050 is the income that we're looking at.

I want to show you something that really is even more surprising.

Tremendous growth.

Look at the state of Texas, 1,000 people a day moving into this state.

The economy's on the rise, we're a big part of that growth here in, in north Dallas and the north Texas area.

And over the last few years, in fact throughout this region, we've seen a 5% growth but what we've see is a 41% growth in poverty over that same period of time.

And it really doesn't make since does it?

Because normally what happens when jobs are created, people get those jobs and they go out of poverty.

But what we're seeing as jobs are being created people are actually falling into poverty at a faster rate than the jobs are being created.

Meaning that they're losing middle class jobs and falling into poverty.

That's what's happening throughout the region so it, it really is kind of everyone's problem.

On the other hand, everyone is going to be -- wants to participate in the growth and the success.

But if everyone is not, then we all pay a price for it in terms of infrastructure, or our school systems, our various social organizations. And I think it's particularly a challenge for community colleges as we look at the need.

The map up here that I am showing you, it's from 1980.

Each dot represents in 1980 where 20 people lived who, in poverty throughout the district, and I think this is probably no surprise to most of you that most of the poverty was in south Dallas. Right?

That's kind of what we've seen.

Let's fast forward. To 2010 and look what's happened to poverty throughout the region.

The demographics have changed, we've seen who's falling into poverty change and we've seen it, become a part of virtually every community, every region that we serve throughout the district.

Does that surprise you?

That where we live and are here right now today has poverty surrounding us in large numbers and large pockets of it?

In fact when we look at where our colleges are located and our campuses are located we see that in fact we're located not only in the southern part of, of the district but throughout the district and areas where we're seeing poverty and needs that need to be met.

Then let's look at what's happening to job growth, because it is going everywhere.

But it's basically a northern phenomenon, and so as we look at clearly what's happening with those in poverty are not aligning very well with where the opportunities are today.

You know a few years back a gentlemen by the name of Jim Clifton.

Jim Clifton is the president CEO of the Gallop Organization that does polling.

On just about everything.

Well he decided to undertake the greatest challenge for the organization they had ever set out to to get a real look at what was occurring throughout the world and they did a global poll, a global survey to really find out what people cared about, what they wanted, what was on their mind, about their goals or dreams or their aspirations.

And it came back and what he found was surprising to him and to the organization, that determined that what the whole world wants is a job.

That that's the number one issue.

In fact the title of his book is "The Coming Job War."

Believing that, as he points out, that that has become the real division between classes, between countries, between cities, between states. And we see it here in the United States, where in fact great effort is going to attract job to cities, to regions, others, that they are realizing that without that job growth, communities, cities cannot be successful.

And we've got great examples where communities have lost jobs throughout this nation.

And we've seen what happens to those cities as, as a result of it.

So here's, here's the challenge.

Here's the conundrum.

As we look at what, what's occurring in our areas.

We've seen job growth -- and growth in poverty at the same time with people losing their job and these folks don't want to be out of work.

They desperately want to work, they desperately want a job, but they can't get jobs, and on the other hand we find employers are absolutely screaming that they can't find people with the knowledge, the skills, the ability, the certificates, the awards, the degrees that they need in order to be successful in growing their business, and meeting the needs of their customers.

And, and so how can we be at a time when we've got so many people out of work that want jobs?

So many companies that can't find the workers that they need and how do we bring those two together today?

Because it's clear that the gap is not only further apart than it's ever been that it's actually widening as we talk. So that workers remain unemployed and employers remain without the skilled workforce they need in order to be successful.

And it really gets down to the middle class challenge.

You know, one of the things that I've seen in my life and some of you can probably relate to this -- you know when I graduated from high school, I had a mother that had encouraged me throughout my life to go to college but I didn't realize till later it wasn't because I was going to college to get a job in those days.

It was to have a better life.

Because in fact jobs were plentiful.

My friends, most of my friends that I went to high school with went right to work.

They, they didn't go to college, and they thought, thought I was a little bit silly.

Why would, when I would forgo a good salary, a good income, the ability to buy a car, a home, all of the things that we need to, to go off to college?

Where I may not earn anymore money than they were going to earn as a result of that?

But then you fast forward and you look at what's happened now and the truth is, there are virtually no jobs in the growth sectors that don't require some education beyond high school.

In fact, 63% of all jobs and depending on what part of the region you're in, it's up to 75%.

The numbers have almost reversed.

Requiring some education beyond high school, often less than a bachelor's degree.

But certainly more than a high school diploma.

You know, when I can remember almost throughout my life, folks making the statement, "College is not for everyone."

Have you ever heard anyone say that?

I may have even said it, at some point, you may have said it.

The truth is, that what may have been true in 1970, it is absolutely not true today.

Today, everyone is better off in college than not in college.

Some college really is for everyone.

In fact, it's essential for everyone and that really is the challenge that we have I think as colleges and districts of

how we reach people that we haven't brought through our doors in the past and serve them in order that they can get the opportunities that they need.

And it's not just some college and it's not just going to college.

It's actually the choices that they make also matter a great deal if they're going to align with the needs of the economy and what's there.

And it surprises people today to know that 43% of workers with just a certificate or a license out-earn individuals with an associate degree.

In fact 27% of individuals with a certificate or a license out-earned bachelors degrees in today's economy.

And 31% of individuals with an associates degree, out earn bachelors degrees.

In fact what we're finding in many states today, is because of a simple economic fact of supply and demand.

That there's such a shortage of skilled people in many areas and most states looked at today, associate degrees will out earn baccalaureate degrees within 18 months to two years after graduation from college. And what are the fast growing areas?

Well we're going to continue to see -- and I should point out the fastest growing demand are for baccalaureate degrees.

We've got to continue getting people through the pipe line but when you look at what's occurring in our area it's not even. Not every area is the same and the growth opportunities are not the same for every area, and frankly we can look at this word cloud today which emphasizes the growth areas and we look at it again in three months, we're going to see differences because the economy is dynamic.

It's changing all the time around us, and that means we've got to be more responsive, nimble and change faster than we ever have.

But to get those jobs, virtual every one of them require coming through the door of Richland College and the colleges throughout the Dallas County Community College District.

There is no other way to, to get there.

That the opportunity for a middle class job and then middle class lifestyle are increasingly thorough the doors of our community colleges.

Meaning that we are more essential we've always been important but today we are absolutely essential for individuals for employers for neighborhoods and for communities that we serve.

So we've been working with our board and working with our college leadership to identify some priorities that hopefully will.

Allow us to continue to grow and meet the needs and really to do what most of you, what I signed on for, and that's to help build a better life for individuals and grow strong neighborhoods and communities.

So what we really have to do is get a better understanding of the educational problems that individuals are facing and what their needs are so that we know not only the individual needs, the needs of employers, the needs of communities and could really focus our energy in that direction.

We talk a lot about student success.

And we do have to have people complete and get the certificates and degrees.

But if we don't bring them in the doors first, they'll never have that opportunity.

And there are many people being completely left behind.

I sometimes call them the non-consumers of higher education.

They don't see us as a way of solving their problems and we've got to communicate in such a way that makes that possible.

We have to eliminate the barriers.

Not just financial, not just geographical barriers.

But some of the social barriers, some of the historical barriers, our own processes that get in the way that make it difficult for individuals to be successful and to come to our doors and to compete.

Dual enrollment is a great pipeline.

And right now we have about 10,000 students throughout the district enrolled in dual enrollment.

We have to grow that number, because if a student earns credit for in college while their still in high school their 84% more likely to continue on with a post-secondary education credential and earn a credential.

We have to look at our pre-k challenge. Now why is that our problem?

Well here's the reality.

In starts in pre-k.

Right now there are 37,000 children in Dallas county who do not have access to early childhood education for one reason, we're 1,900 teachers short of what the needs are in order to meet that.

And if we don't own that problem who will.

Who, who can create the, the wide door to bring people in to, to address that need?

We also have to look at that realizing that many individuals aren't prepared for some of our associate degree programs and others, so we have to look at more short term certificates, which I can tell you we are already.

And this is one of the fastest growing areas throughout the district of people coming in and earning these certificates and being able to go right to work.

But I think we have to accelerate, that otherwise we're not going to be able to bring everyone up to salary and the income and support the needs of the employers like we intend.

And we can't do it by ourselves. We have to partner in a very different way with employers.

We've always used advisory councils to help with our technical and career education programs.

But we have to expand that even more now, so we're engaging on a more basic level of talking about, what are the skills gaps?

What are your challenges with employers?

Understanding the business model. And then more importantly, I think, than anything else, we really have to guarantee that transfer.

You may have seen today, or this week, a recent study was released pointing out that the average transfer student nation wide loses 13 hours on transfer.

We think it's 21 to 24 in this area and we have to make this seamless and perfect for every student.

It makes it too expensive and it's a barrier, an unnecessary barrier and frankly shouldn't be allowed to transfer into a university without accepting the credit.

So as we, as we look at where we are today, we're seeing more and more community colleges being talked about nationally and locally as a solution for individuals, for employers, for communities.

And I think the most telling headline that I've seen, is the one here that asked the question in Time Magazine some time back, "Can Community Colleges Save the US economy?"

I just pondered that headline.

Why would that question be asked?

Well, the reality is, it's an understanding that not only, I think, is America really discovering, but it's part of the role of community colleges to make sure that we have the programs that allow individuals to leave here and to be successful and achieve their dreams that companies can find the individuals they need to be successful and that our communities can grow and prosper.

So as we, as we look at this map.

You know I look at this everyday as the great challenge that we face of poverty through out the region.

I think that -- I guess I'm an optimist and somewhat of an idealist.

You know it's my goal that we see that wiped out.

And that we replace that with jobs throughout the the district.

That everyone can be a part of the economy and everyone can play a role in meeting their needs, their families' needs.

And we all benefit.

Thank you very much for letting me spend some time with you today and talk to you about some of these issues.

Thank you.