ICCB Study: COD Remains a Critical Economic Driver and Source for Job Creation

By: Angela Mennecke

The ICCB president stands at a podium during the a press conference with nine community college presents on either side of him

Results Show an Illinois Community College Education Increases Worker Earnings

College of DuPage, the largest community college in Illinois, continues to help drive the regional economy and train a skilled workforce for in-demand industries throughout Illinois, according to a new study issued by the Illinois Community College Board.

The study found that COD graduates earn $650,000 more during their careers than those who did not attend college. In addition, more than 84 percent of students who earn a certificate or associate degree in applied science programs are employed within a year of graduation, with an average annual rate of return of nearly 27 percent.

These were just a few of the findings in the ICCB’s study of Illinois’ 48 community colleges, which account for $3.5 billion in economic output and more than 43,000 jobs.

College of DuPage President Dr Brian Caputo said Illinois community colleges offer great promise for the promotion of economic growth through workforce development.

“At College of DuPage, our Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship program seeks to close the local skills gap and Innovation DuPage provides vast resources to support new as well as fledgling businesses in the region,” he said. “The College offers a wide variety of certificate programs of short duration that afford students the opportunity to become contributors in the marketplace quickly. We also work collaboratively with Choose DuPage, the county’s economic development agency, to maximize our impact. Indeed, economic development is a strategic imperative of COD.”

The ICCB report evaluates Illinois’ community college system on its ability to meet the needs of business and industry, equity, student outcomes, students’ return on investment, and the system’s overall economic impact to local economies and job growth.

“It is clear that community colleges remain a solid return on investment for local communities and the students that use them,” said ICCB executive director, Dr. Brian Durham. “Our system plays a vital role in meeting the needs of Illinois’ workforce by providing quality training and education and gives students a greater opportunity to earn higher wages in countless industries throughout the state.”

According to the report, as the long-term economic changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic become more apparent, community colleges and other parts of the workforce development system can help retrain those who have permanently lost their jobs.

Caputo said community colleges are in the best position to quickly meet the needs of the workforce.

“As we begin to look ahead to a post-pandemic world, community colleges should be an integral part of workforce and economic development,” he said. “Most of us are already involved in this work, and now is the time to build upon existing programs. This will ensure a strong regional economic foundation and cultivate growth opportunities.”

To review the full study, please visit https://bit.ly/iccbEIS.

College of DuPage is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Serving approximately 21,000 students each term, College of DuPage is the largest public community college in the state of Illinois. The College grants seven associate degrees and offers more than 170 career and technical certificates in over 50 areas of study.