Cordray sees community colleges making higher education more affordable

(WSYX/WTTE)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Rich Cordray outlined part of his plan to make college more affordable Friday with community college officials. The former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said community colleges can both give students a cheaper alternative to a four-year university and also narrow the skills gap. He said employers have jobs available but not enough qualified people to fill them.

"We need different paths," Cordray said. "We need certification programs. We need skills training. We need two-year degree programs and we need two years as a step to a four-year degree which community colleges can also provide."

Community college officials said more students are looking to start their college career with them as tuition costs continue to climb.

"Community colleges already have taken on a much larger role," he said. "If we didn't have community colleges, affordability would be out of sight for a lot of families."

Marion Technical College President Ryan McCall said community colleges like his have started working with local companies to identify which jobs they'll need to hire in the future. Students as early as the 8th grade can then start to receive training so they're ready to take over jobs from retiring employees.

"(Employers) have a skills gap and they know they're going to need these individuals four, five years out because of retirements," McCall said. "We're starting now to start filling that skills gap to start students on a pathway."

Republican nominee Mike DeWine's campaign sent a statement saying, "We need to prioritize vocational education so we can fill Ohio jobs with Ohio workers. We will work to ensure high school students are either college-ready or career-ready with an industry credential so they can find work in an in-demand industry without getting trapped in student loans."

Both DeWine and Cordray seem to agree there are alternatives to good-paying jobs.

"This has been a godsend for people and their families and for mid-life transitioning professionals to have affordable options available," Cordray said.

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