HCC highlights pathways at Fort Bend County State of Higher Education

Jul 6, 2017

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Funding, innovation and the value of higher education in Fort Bend County were the main topics discussed at the Fort Bend County Chamber of Commerce 2017 State of Higher Education. The event was sponsored by Houston Community College (HCC) Southwest College at the Sweetwater Country Club. More than 100 attendees listened to a panel of education experts, including HCC Southwest President Madeline Burillo, Ed.D., discuss how their college programs serve the surrounding community while remaining relevant in the global economy.

“Because of all the innovations at the HCC Stafford Campus and the Advanced Manufacturing Center of Excellence, we are very relevant to the large number of manufacturers, industrial companies and businesses that are located here,” Burillo said. “Information Technology is at the core of every single business, small, medium and large. HCC is number one in cybersecurity, which is needed by any size business for its workers to keep up with technology and protect their company's network.”

Dr. Burillo participated in the panel discussion with other education experts from colleges serving the Fort Bend County region: the University of Houston (UH)-Sugar Land, Wharton County Junior College (WCJC) and Texas State Technical College (TSTC). All agreed government funding is crucial to their success. State Representative John Zerwas, Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, also spoke out about funding and increasing access to higher education. The committee recently allocated $1.75 billion to two-year institutions in the state.

“It's important to allocate funds for a couple of reasons,” Zerwas said. “For one, we would never achieve some of the goals that are defined by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in terms of meeting workforce requirements by 2030. Also, in the last legislative session in 2015, the junior colleges really came up short on the amount of funding being offered, whereas all the other higher education institutions came out ahead. The playing field needed to be leveled.”

The panel also discussed how Texas has become increasingly engaged in a global economy dependent on a skilled workforce, with many of the workers coming from community and technical colleges, as well as four-year institutions. Fort Bend County is a perfect example of this trend. The county has seen a rise in manufacturing businesses. That increase creates the need for a qualified workforce able to adapt and compete at the highest level to maintain a strong economy.

“HCC is number one in students who transfer to four-year universities,” Burillo said. “We are creating a new pathway for Fort Bend County students through our partnership with Texas Southern University (TSU), starting at the Missouri City Center. We will also offer healthcare courses in Missouri City, which lead into our HCC Coleman College health programs. The goal is to make HCC the number one choice in Fort Bend County.”

With institutions like HCC, WCJC, UH–Sugar Land and TSTC providing funding, training and various pathways to higher education, the surrounding economy benefits by having a skilled workforce. The goal set for Fort Bend County by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is having approximately 60 percent of its 25-to-34-year-old workforce with some kind of higher education. Whether it’s a certificate, associate degree, professional degree or four-year degree, Fort Bend County is on the right track to meet that goal.

For more information about HCC Southwest College offerings in Fort Bend County, visit: hccs.edu.

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