The High Wage Committee is an NWTC team focused on recruiting and enrolling students of color into high wage programs and providing support through program completion. Learn more about the committee and its purpose in this Q&A with team members Jennifer Parks-Tigert and Riley McDermid.
Q. Why did the College decide to start a team to review success rates of students of color in high wage programs?
A. NWTC has a goal to increase the percentage of students of color enrolled in and completing high wage programs to 18% by 2023. A high wage program is defined as having a median starting wage over $45,500. NWTC currently has 64 high wage programs. To meet that goal, specific initiatives and committees were put into place, including the High Wage Committee.
Q. Why is it important to look at the success of our students of color?
A. One of NWTC’s values is Everyone Has Worth. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion work, including the work of the High Wage Committee, exemplifies this value. Disparities exist between communities of diverse backgrounds regarding wage earning potential as well as degree attainment. It’s our moral obligation to ensure that communities of color have access to the same opportunities, credential attainment, and employment as their white counterparts.
Q. What type of impact does equity have in how a student applies to a program?
A. Equity is all about meeting students where they are at. A one size fits all approach does not meet individualized needs in applying to college. Depending on the prior experience of students and their families, navigating the higher education system/processes can be challenging. For instance, students who are first generation, students who received special education resources in their K12 experience, or students who speak English as their second language all need customized approaches and resources to build a sense of belonging in the college environment.
Q. What does the initial data you have reviewed indicate about equity gaps in the workforce?
A. Employers in our community have an interest in diversifying their workforce, and we need to be sure to supply students in the pipeline to meet their goals and the current labor market demand. By increasing the number of students of color we have enrolling and completing programs, we will help close the equity gaps in the workforce. NWTC is committed to reviewing the student process from inquiry to graduation with a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to make sure we are a college of choice for all students.
Q. What is the High Wage Committee currently working on?
A. The committee is currently focused on the Trades and Engineering Technology programs; 24 of NWTC’s 64 high wage programs are in that area. Pilot projects include creating an alumni ambassador program, creating a cohort of Latinx students in the Electro-Mechanical Technology program, collaborating with local high schools to meet diverse student needs, and reviewing the admissions, enrollment, and retention process.