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Chancellor: Community colleges teach job skills

Community colleges prepare students to enter the workforce with the skills they need to be successful.

That’s what Freida H. Hill, chancellor of Alabama’s Community College System, told Chilton County business leaders Thursday.

“Everything we do (at community colleges) is workforce and economic development,” Hill said.

The chancellor spoke to the Chilton County Industrial Board during a breakfast meeting Thursday at Alabama Power in Clanton.

“I’m a product of community colleges, and I’m proud of that,” said Hill, who later went on to earn her bachelor’s diploma from Samford and master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Georgia.

There are 21 community colleges in Alabama, along with four technical schools, one military institute and almost 100 instructional sites across the state.

Hill said the system focuses on academics, adult education and workforce development.

Some 98,000 students are taking credited courses at Alabama community colleges, and half of those will continue on to four-year institutions. Hill said community college students do just as well or even better than those who go to a four-year university straight out of high school.

Though budgets are being cut, Hill said the state must look at expanding duel enrollment programs in high school and adding more offerings at its community colleges.

Concerning adult education, Hill said the system must aid more people by helping them earn their high school diplomas or GED. More than 950,000 adults in Alabama don’t have a high school diploma or GED.

She said community colleges also offer valuable workplace training.

“The amount of money we have saved business and industries is staggering,” Hill said.

She also encouraged people to visit a community college campus.

“A lot of people will pass us every day, (but) they don’t know what’s behind our doors,” she said.