Rogue Community College (RCC) has received $300,000 in state support from the Future Ready Oregon Workforce Ready Grant Program. RCC’s grant, announced on Jan. 24, is among many given across the state in this first round of funding, and will allow the college to increase its capacity to launch, sustain and support workforce training in employment fields now underserved within the Rogue Valley.
Responding to a growing demand in allied health, one part of RCC’s funded project will support curriculum development in dental hygiene, a required key step in the accreditation process for establishing a new program.
Additionally, RCC will develop new regional industry partnerships in technology, manufacturing and healthcare, building capacity to design and implement new training programs specific to industry workforce needs. A key factor in RCC’s success is the ability to create programs that will prepare graduates to enter high-paying careers while meeting regional demand for skilled workers.
According to Lightcast Data, a labor market analytics firm, the estimated annual salary for dental hygienists in the Southern Oregon region is $95,480, higher than the national median salary of $77,813. Jackson and Josephine counties are noted “hotspots” for dental hygienists, with nearly 266 dental hygienist positions, much higher than the national average (166) for similar sized areas. Regional demand is projected to increase at rates higher than the national average through 2031.
According to David Koehler, RCC interim dean of instruction, health and human services, “With this funding, RCC seeks to develop new training programs leading to high-demand, high-wage careers for a wide array of students who may not have had equal opportunities for such training previously.”
The Workforce Ready Grant program, funded through the 2022 Oregon Legislature Senate Bill 1545, aims to advance an equitable workforce pipeline. As part of the Future Ready Oregon vision put forth last year, this first $10 million round of awards intends to broaden the type, number and capacity of organizations that comprise Oregon’s workforce. The grant also encourages innovation and lowers barriers to job training and education for historically underserved and marginalized populations.
Shared in a recent press release, Higher Education Coordinating Commission Executive Director Ben Cannon said, “We are so pleased to expand and deepen our network of workforce and education partners, and to fund robust, creative plans for connecting Oregonians from underserved communities to the postsecondary credentials needed to prepare for a future of increasingly complex work.”
“We are truly appreciative of the State’s investment in Southern Oregon through this award,” added Koehler. “We believe in the power of education and training to transform lives and launch our economy upwards.”