Nevada System of Higher Education Chancellor Melody Rose has thrown her support behind a bill that would help community colleges better align with the state’s needs for workforce training.
Assembly Bill 450 was approved May 12 in the Assembly and was heard in the Senate the following day before moving to the Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections.
If passed, the bill would allow the governor to appoint a committee to study the programs offered by Nevada’s community colleges, whether they meet the needs of the state’s economy, and how course and degree offerings may better align with workforce needs. The committee would be required to present its findings to the governor, NSHE and the legislature by Aug. 1, 2022, signaling changes to community colleges could be made during the 2023 legislative session.
“I fully support efforts to gather information, study, and elevate the importance of our community colleges to Nevada’s workforce development, economy, and higher education mission,” said Rose in a statement.
Findings from the committee could lead to community colleges transitioning out of NSHE’s control, however.
During his Jan. 19 state of the state address, Gov. Steve Sisolak said as much. “That’s why I will be asking the Legislature to work with the Nevada System of Higher Education over the next two years to develop a framework transitioning Nevada’s community colleges to a new independent authority that will focus on making Nevadans job-ready.”
Workforce development and training initiatives have been a major focus for the governor and have been spurred on with CARES Act and American Rescue Plan funds. Many of these efforts have been in partnership with the state’s community colleges.
Recent efforts have included:
- Launch of an advanced manufacturing rapid response program at College of Southern Nevada with $2 million in funding from the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
- Creation of a Certified Nursing Assistant Registered Apprenticeship Program in Mesquite through a partnership between the Governor’s Office of Workforce Innovation and College of Southern Nevada.
- A $6.9 million Westside Workforce Education and Training Center for the College of Southern Nevada to bring job training to an area of Las Vegas that sees some of Clark County’s highest unemployment.
- State participation in the first cohort of the national Workforce Innovation Network and creation of a Job Force initiative to aid in post-pandemic economic recovery.
- Development of a no-cost manufacturing certificate program for workers laid off during the pandemic offered through Western Nevada College in partnership with University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies, Empower America and Nevada Industry Excellence.
Formation of a committee under AB 450 is just the first step to potentially splitting community colleges into their own governance structure. It also follows a trend in this legislative session. A number of bills have moved from policy change to studies by committees.
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with 20 years’ experience working in communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. In her free time, she is a volunteer backpacking guide along the Tahoe Rim Trail, an avid home cook and baker, cyclist, wife and stepmom.