Chronicle of Higher Education: NSC Calls for Assistant Secretary of Community and Technical Colleges

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, December 09, 2020

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently interviewed Director of Government Affairs Katie Spiker to discuss NSC’s education and workforce policy recommendations for the Biden administration, including removing barriers to our country’s safety net, increasing investments in digital literacy, advancing a “people-centered” infrastructure plan, and establishing a new assistant secretary for community and technical colleges.

“Work requirements don’t work,” Spiker told The Chronicle. They often make it hard for low-income students, she said, to successfully complete courses while balancing work and family. Instead of administering such programs based on who’s working while getting the benefits, NSC is urging, the incoming administration to look longer-term at recipients’ employment and salary outcomes.

When it comes to closing the digital literacy gap, The Chronicle highlights NSC’s research which shows that 48 million Americans have few or no digital skills. “Partnerships between industry groups and education providers, it says, ‘could ensure that education and training programs are responsive to the particular occupational digital-literacy needs of local employers.'”

“NSC puts more emphasis on apprenticeships,” The Chronicle adds. “Although it wants the new administration to rescind a Trump-era model, which allows companies to skirt some longstanding Labor Department requirements. Despite those issues, Spiker noted, support for apprenticeships among colleges has been growing, and she’s hopeful that enthusiasm will continue.”

NSC has called on Biden to appoint a community college leader to a new position in the Department of Education – Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges – to ensure that our nation’s community colleges are primed to help put millions of displaced workers into family-supporting jobs and good careers. The new position would also help address a long-standing equity issue in our federal higher education policies, which relegates millions of working adults at community colleges to second-class status.

“If colleges — and particularly community colleges — are going to play a vital role in helping people dig out from the economic hole they’re in, a higher-ranking federal appointee would be poised to make the case with other agencies across the government,” The Chronicle notes.