PENDLETON — Results of a recent economic impact study commissioned by Tri-County Technical College reinforce that it pays to invest in education.
In an analysis of the socioeconomic benefits and return on investment of the College, Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI) reported students and taxpayers are seeing a quick return on their investments.
“Probably the best example is that folks are going to work. The direct impact to students is they are employed at a higher level and not relying on government-supported social services,” said Tri-County President Ronnie L. Booth. “You can either pull, push or ride and we are turning out people who are pulling the economy along and adding to their communities. The study reinforces the good job we do with the dollars we get.”
EMSI’s study — which can be found online at www.tctc.edu/EconomicImpact201 — notes that the college creates a significant positive impact on the local business community and generates a return on investments to its major stakeholder groups – students, society and taxpayers.
“The study looks at data from several perspectives – from the point of view of students, and how it enhances their lives, the benefits to taxpayers and contributions to society as a whole through social savings,” Booth said.
The college has an impact on manufacturing by supplying them with a skilled workforce, he said.
“Programs like mechatronics and welding have seen significant growth because they directly support manufacturing,” he said. “Students see a quick return on their investment.”
Local manufacturing leaders look to Tri-County to fill their workforce needs.
“Tri County Technical College continues to excel as a leader in our community. Programs in the engineering and industrial Technology Division and the SC Manufacturing Certification Program are providing employers in the manufacturing sector with higher skilled applicants to bring into our workforce,” said Mary Ann Craft, human resources manager at U. S. Engine Valve in Westminster. “The skill level needed today in industry is much higher due to advanced technology. In most cases, it is no longer possible for an applicant with a high school diploma and no advanced training to enter into manufacturing due to the skill level needed.”
Larry Smith, plant manager at Schneider Electric in Seneca, says today’s jobs require more knowledge and training and Tri-County fills that valuable role for the company.
“Tri County Tech is a tremendous asset to the industrial community. They work hard to assure their programs are well aligned to the needs of our businesses,” said Smith, who currently serves as president of the Oconee County Industrial Group. “To remain viable and competitive in today’s global economy requires a well educated work force. We have been highly successful in employing many graduates of Tri-County’s two-year engineering programs. The two-year degree is a requirement for our critical technical jobs – quality control analysts.”
Earning a degree, diploma or certificate benefits the individual because it increases a person’s earning potential. On average, someone with an associate degree will earn $34,000 at the midpoint of their career, which is $9,200 more than someone with a high school diploma. Associate degree graduates will earn $1,564,000 over their working lifetime, an increase of $423,200 compared to someone with a high school diploma.
“Quality control analysts are our top-paying production support jobs. After just a few years, they earn well above figures cited by the study,” said Smith. “With a few years of experience, these folks become prime candidates for promotions into other engineering roles which can lead to even more opportunities for career advancement. More than 50 percent of our engineering team are Tri-County graduates.”
Specifically, the college’s 2012-13 students will receive an average annual rate of return of 15.3 percent on their investment in the college. This rate of return continues through their working lives. On average a student will receive a return of $3.90 in higher future income for every $1 he or she invested in their education.
For every credit hour completed, a student sees a $151 increase in annual income.
“Every credit hour translates into additional annual income,” Dr. Booth said. “By spending money on education, taxpayers save money through reduced crime, decreased spending on health care, welfare and unemployment. Statistically, those with improved lifestyles have a reduced demand for government-supported services.”
For every dollar the taxpayers invest in the college, there is an annual return of 7.4 percent on their investment in Tri-County. For every dollar taxpayers invest, they see a $3 return over their working career.
In addition, in terms of operation, Tri-County is a significant source of economic benefit. The college spends $27 million in the area and is an important source of jobs and revenue for the area.
“The College provides value to the community when we produce successful students/graduates. The study quantifies that successful students are good for the economy and good for society,” said Booth. “Education is one of the best investments students and their families can make.”
EMSI Inc. provides socioeconomic impact and strategic planning tools for community and technical colleges throughout the United States and Canada.