The success of our programs in preparing our students for employment is clearly a critical performance indicator. The State, the community, and our students consider job preparation a core purpose of the community colleges. Students who invest their time and money in their education want to know that there will be jobs in the fields they are training for and that they will be well prepared for those jobs.
As important as the employment indicator is, however, it is also one of the most difficult to measure. Most of our students are already employed either part-time or full-time, and many are employed in the fields they are studying. The "value added" by their education will have a long term effect but may or may not have an immediate effect on their jobs or salaries. It is difficult to track community college graduates over time to measure the effect of their education on their employment and even more difficult to track non-graduating "leavers" who may, in fact have left the college because they have already achieved an enhanced employability.
In programs such as Nursing, Fire Technology, or our General Motors affiliated ASEP program, it is somewhat easier to track graduates into their first jobs, and the placement rates for such well-defined and cohort-based programs are very high. Lacking adequate staff for full-fledged employment offices or alumni offices, however, community colleges are challenged to develop more comprehensive data on the success of their graduates.
What LRCC is able to provide as performance indicators in this important area is indeed rudimentary. The employment status and salaries of students at the point of graduation tells us very little; the number of internships may have an effect on employment, but it is an indirect measure at best. The growth of our Workforce Development program is encouraging, but is really an input measure rather than an outcome. This is clearly an area that demands much more effort and investment on the part of the College.