Two of the fastest growing economic sectors are converging in Bergen County. One is the growing enrollment at community colleges as tuition hikes put four-year institutions increasingly out of reach. The other is health care more available than ever and increasingly swamped by an aging population. A $15 million federal job training grant has been won by Bergen Community College to lead 12 institutions in health care training. Bergen Community College President Kaye Walter told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the health care industry is booming and that the school wants to help supply workers to the industry.
“It’s extremely important. Health care is actually the fastest growing economic sector in New Jersey right now,” said Walter. “Health care actually is booming right now because of the aging population. So we are extremely interested in supplying workers for the health care industry in the state.”
Currently the school has programs for pharmacy technicians and home health care aids. It also has programs for people within the growing ambulatory care services and long-term health care facilities, according to Walter.
Walter said there are high paying jobs available in those areas.
Whether the Affordable Care Act had an impact on the need for more workers, Walter said that it has driven the growing health care industry and that it makes more health care necessary.
Currently Bergen Community College is in the process of building a new $26 million building and according to Walter, the school wanted to mimic what occurs in hospitals and health care facilities.
“We wanted to really mimic what goes on in hospital and health care facilities and so what we proposed to do was an integrated health care facility for our health care profession programs,” Walter said. “So that students can get firsthand experience as to what it’s like to work on teams in long-term health care facilities as well as in the hospitals.”
Within the new building there will be labs and the dental hygiene clinic will have patients.
A new paramedics program that just started in the fall will also be included in the building.
Walter said that there are waiting lists for the programs and that it was the reason why the school decided to expand.
“They come to us. All of our health care programs have waiting lists and that’s why we’re trying to expand our facilities so we can train additional students,” said Walter.