Albany Technical College Blog
Fifteen years ago, Albany Technical College rolled out our hometown heroes marketing campaign. The campaign recognized the contributions made by our graduates who work in law enforcement, emergency services, and firefighting. You may remember ads in the airport, on billboards, TV, and radio. The current COVID-19 crisis focuses an even greater emphasis on graduates from these programs. Now more than ever, these Albany Technical College graduates expose themselves to the risk of injury and illness as they go about their work. More importantly, they expose themselves to the potential hazards of COVID-19 while we shelter at home.
The need for the Alaska oil pipeline became apparent during the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Gasoline prices increased from $.28 per gallon to $.60 per gallon in 45 days. To complicate matters, gas could only be purchased on odd or even days, depending on the last number on your license plate. In addition to this, you could only purchase five gallons at a time. A 2020 comparison would be a price increase from $3.25 to $10.50 per gallon with the same limitations on the amount to be purchased.
As we transition from January to February each year, I ponder my responsibilities as a successful older American of African descent. January is the month that I remember the contributions made by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for quality of life for all Americans. February is the month that I consider the accomplishments of all Americans of African descent. I’m extremely grateful to Dr. King, Congressman John Lewis, and others. My comfortable life would not be possible without their sacrifices. I realize that I’ve accomplished far more than my parents could have dreamed. My children have many more opportunities than my parents could conceive. That brings me to Dr. King’s discussion of a Freedom Dividend. I first heard the term when I was about fourteen years old. However, I had no context to use for understanding what it meant. The term Freedom Dividend had no relevance.
The cruel fact is, if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you always had or even less, never more. If you recruit students as you always have, you will get a consistent decline in enrollment. If you hire technical college graduates as you always have, then you should expect to perpetuate the shortage of skilled labor. Humans are creatures of habit. We often reinforce behavior patterns through practice. Practices that bring good results are often perpetuated and continued reinforcement brings about addiction to these practices. Many colleges appear to be addicted to recruiting practices of the past. Also, many employers seem to be addicted to the traditional ways of employing a labor force. Many potential employees are addicted to obsolete ways of preparing for work.
Many of our SW Georgia neighbors could say that they’ve failed because they did not have the opportunity to succeed. They could also say that they did not have the opportunity to acquire the resources that lead to good employment through education, or that the mere struggle to stay alive kept them from opportunity. No matter what personal reasons people may feel are their causes of failure, empirical evidence indicates that six counties in Albany Tech’s Service Delivery Area are distressed or at risk for being distressed. Only one of the seven is prosperous. Further, there is a high correlation between the attainment of a high school education or GED and economic prosperity and affluence gained from higher education.