July 2, 2024

HARRISBURG, Pa. – HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, shares recent news, including:

  • HACC Graduates 840 to Help Fill High Priority Occupations
  • HACC Continues to Celebrate Graduates

HACC Graduates 840 to Help Fill High Priority Occupations
Recent Grads Filling Workforce Needs in High Priority Areas Statewide

HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, added 840 graduates to its alumni network in May. The College joined 14 other Pennsylvania community colleges in graduating 7,530 students, an accomplishment recently highlighted by the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges (PACCC). 

John J. “Ski” Sygielski, MBA, Ed.D., president and CEO of HACC, said “Community college graduates continue to fill workforce needs in their communities, with many receiving degrees in high priority occupation areas, including the health sciences, early childhood education, teacher training, the trades, manufacturing and information technology/computer science. At HACC, that means degrees in nursing, elementary education, welding technology, medical assisting and criminal justice.”

Based on current census and population data, it is estimated Pennsylvania’s projected skilled worker shortage could reach 820,000 in the coming years. To meet the state’s workforce needs and support continued economic growth, more workers with appropriate credentials and training tailored to regional employer needs will be required – an area in which community colleges excel.

The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania conducted a survey of 70 of its hospitals in November 2023 and found that one-third of registered nurse positions were vacant. The need is in sharp contrast to levels before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2024, 13% of community college graduates received nursing degrees, adding more than 1,000 nurses to the workforce.

Health sciences led the list of degrees granted at community colleges in the state in May, with graduates earning credentials to serve as registered nurses (RNs), medical assistants, radiographers, dental hygienists, medical coders and billers and sonographers, among many others. That was reflected among HACC graduates, too, with 157 students receiving nursing degrees and another 29 students receiving credentials as medical assistants/medical clinicians.

Pennsylvania is also facing a major shortage of educators across the commonwealth. A decade ago, roughly 20,000 teacher certifications were issued each year, while in 2021 only about 6,000 were issued. This includes pre-K and early childcare programs. A March 2022 Start Strong PA survey found that there are nearly 32,500 children on waiting lists with 91% of respondents citing staffing shortages as the challenge to serve more children.

Community colleges continue to have a positive impact on that workforce. At HACC, 25 students received degrees in elementary education this spring. Across all 15 community colleges, 224 students received degrees or certificates in childcare, pre K-4 early education, early childhood education and early childhood intervention. 

Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges have over 245,000 students enrolled on their 80 campuses, providing real savings to students and families as they pursue additional credentials. On average, students save $30,000 on their education by starting at, or selecting, a community college for their degree or certificate. Those same 15 colleges partner with 2,170 employers for workforce training, ensuring that students have the most up-to-date knowledge and providing pathways to careers for them as well.

Community colleges are the state’s largest provider of public postsecondary education and workforce training and offer the lowest public postsecondary tuition in Pennsylvania. Additionally, 75% of the community colleges’ programs align with high priority occupations in fields such as health care, manufacturing and public safety. They award over 4,000 healthcare credentials annually on average, including 75% of all associate degrees in nursing in the state. It is estimated that about 55% of undergraduate students who are enrolled in a Pennsylvania college are enrolled at one of the 15 community colleges in the state.

HACC Continues to Celebrate Graduates
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is proud to recognize 876 individuals who completed their associate degree, certificate or diploma during spring or summer 2024. Many of these graduates were celebrated at the College’s Commencement ceremony at the Giant Center in Hershey, Pa. on May 7.

The full list of spring and summer 2024 graduates is here. Please visit HACC’s Flickr site to view images of some of the graduates.

In addition, interested individuals can watch the Commencement ceremony, which was livestreamed

Future students who are interested in pursuing their dreams, like these graduates, should visit hacc.edu/GetStarted

About HACC
HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, is the first and largest of Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges. HACC offers approximately 100 career and transfer associate degree, certificate and diploma programs to approximately 12,000 students. Also, the College serves students at its Gettysburg, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Lebanon and York campuses; through virtual learning; and via workforce development and continuing education training. For more information on how HACC is uniquely YOURS, visit hacc.edu. Also, follow us on X (@HACC_info), follow us on Instagram (@HACC_edu), like us on Facebook (Facebook.com/HACC64) and use #HACCNews.

About the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges
The Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges is a nonprofit, volunteer membership association and the primary advocate for Pennsylvania’s 15 community colleges. Members include the college presidents, members of the colleges’ boards of trustees and key college administrators. The Commission provides leadership on issues affecting the colleges and represents the collective needs, vision and values of the colleges to state and federal policymakers.

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