Houston Community College To Focus More On Workforce Training

HCC's acting chancellor Renee Byas gives the 2014 State of the College address
Since the local elections last fall, there's been a lot of controversy surrounding one of the newest trustees of Houston Community College. But this morning at the "State of the College" address, the focus was on moving the system forward.

Houston Community College is in the middle of what some call a transition period.

It’s searching for a new permanent chancellor to lead the system. It’s one of the largest community colleges in the country.

It also has four new members on the board of trustees. That includes one member, Dave Wilson, who’s facing a lawsuit over his election.

But the interim chancellor Renee Byas says those changes won’t distract HCC from its main focus.

“Well it never impacts the business of educating students because that is our first and foremost priority is educating students. So HCC will continue to remain strong into the future and future years. No matter who’s there in terms of the leadership at the helm, but the key at the end of the day, it’s about educating students.”

In terms of education, Byas says HCC will focus more on partnering with local industries and training students for jobs.

In particular, jobs that require more than a high school diploma but not necessarily a four year college degree.

“We know that there is an ever-demanding need for middle-skill positions. By the year 2015, we know around 39 to 40 percent of baby boomers will be retiring. So we provide that critical need in terms of training people to put them into the workforce.”

The chair of the board of trustees, Neeta Sane, says the board is ready to get to work.

“A consistent team emerging from the current board is the high priority that we have for student success and workforce programs.”

One of the new trustees, Zeph Capo, says the board agrees workforce training is a major priority.

He says HCC also needs to be transparent about any other issues.

“Be very clear, very honest with the community, with system, with our employees about what’s happening. Ensure there’s a process in place and move forward.”

That idea of moving forward was the clear theme for HCC as local politicians, educators and business leaders left the state of the college address.

Bio photo of Laura Isensee

Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for KUHF, including K-12 and higher education.

Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and regularly contributed to WLRN, the local NPR affiliate and Miami Herald news partner...