Community Colleges Provide the Skills Needed for High-Demand Careers

Community colleges offer many short-term training programs that can lead to a stable career in a high-demand industry. Working in one of our region’s high-demand industries (agribusiness, construction, health care, information technology, manufacturing) can mean high growth potential, job security and higher wages.  

To learn more about training programs through community colleges, we spoke with Julie Parks, interim dean, School of Workforce Development at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC). Here is what she had to say: 

Why should job seekers consider a community college training program in a high-demand career?

Students in their short-term training programs get the following benefits: 

There is direct employer involvement. Employers review the curriculum and some even teach in the program. That means what you are learning will be used on the job when you go to work. 

The programs build confidence in a career choice. Participants know they have the skills to be successful and a head start when they begin their career. 

Someone who has earned a certificate or credential usually starts at a higher wage and/or can advance more quickly in an organization because of what they have learned. 

What short-term training programs are “hot” right now at GRCC?

The hottest programs for students right now include: 

Programs with current openings and immediate jobs available after completing the program include: 

  • HVAC (Heating, cooling, air conditioning) programs 
  • CNC Machining programs 
  • Welding programs.   
  • Public Works. 
  • Mechanical Design Certificate. 
  • Industrial Technology Certificate. 

What advice do you have for someone who is nervous about going back to school or changing careers?

Parks indicated community colleges provide a variety of resources such as, free tutoring services, advising, and career coaching, to help their students succeed when enrolled in their short-term training programs. 

For those concerned about the cost of going back to school, Parks shared that there are many different funding streams to help make short-term training affordable. Currently there are co-cost options available through the American Recovery Act. “If you want to improve your skills, now is the time!” 

Ready to get started? You can check in with GRCC’s Educational Training Specialists to set-up a time to talk with them at 616-234-3800 or email  

Looking for a job? Registration for West Michigan Works! monthly Virtual Job Fair will open on Monday, August 9 through Monday, August 16. Visit to learn more and register.