NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND REGION HIGHER EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT

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1 NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND REGION HIGHER EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT Submitted to: and the NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND HIGHER EDUCATION ADVISORY BOARD Submitted by: December 5, 2014

2 NORTHEASTERN MARYLAND REGION HIGHER EDUCATION NEEDS ASSESSMENT In response to legislation passed in 2013 by the Maryland General Assembly and funded in fiscal year 2014, the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC), on behalf of the Northeastern Maryland Higher Education Advisory Board (NMHEAB), engaged MGT of America, Inc., a national education planning and research firm, to conduct an assessment of higher education needs in the local region. This document provides a brief summary of study findings. The NMHEAB defined a scope of work for the needs assessment to determine the following: The updated need for postsecondary education programs at all levels (associate through doctoral degrees); The existing availability of programs locally; The ability of the Center to further identify, develop, and facilitate joint commercial or federal lab activities, especially university graduate programs; Lessons learned from similar regional centers across Maryland that may be applicable for the Northeastern Region and the Center. The report data, findings and conclusions are intended to inform planning decisions of NMHEAB related to the development of the University Center (the Center). STUDY CONCLUSIONS The northeastern Maryland region is well positioned to continue to maintain relatively low unemployment, grow its diverse business/industry mix, support the presence of extensive federal and military activities, and match or surpass the educational attainment levels of the state and progress towards achieving Year 2025 goals. A number of existing factors in Cecil and Harford Counties will impact this quest including: The population of each county is projected to grow at or above the rate for Maryland as a whole through The traditional college age population for each geography is projected to remain stable. An educational disparity (attainment and participation) exists between the two counties, with fewer residents of Cecil County enrolled in college or graduate school than those in Harford County. In reality, three distinct markets exist in the region - Cecil County, Harford County, and the Aberdeen Proving Ground - each with its own needs and barriers as related to post-secondary education and training which should be addressed. Additionally, there are several distinct population segments or sub-groups that may require differentiated program access and delivery depending on their circumstances. These segments include: (1) traditional age students (age 18-24) transitioning directly from high school or community college in pursuit of a baccalaureate degree; (2) non-traditional age adults, who are i

3 either time- or place-bound, seeking to achieve one of several higher education goals (undergraduate, graduate or continuing education). Finally the regional market is also sub-divided by employment; (1) those employed by or affiliated with the military, Department of Defense, or Federal research or security organization with operations in the Northeastern Maryland region, and (2) those who currently do not share such an affiliation (including local military veterans). Occupational projections (particularly replacement numbers) will drive demand for degrees and training opportunities for the near future. Several key industry clusters (engineering, technology, manufacturing, and healthcare) with significant employment capacity in private and public sectors that rely heavily on STEM educated workers. These jobs typically provide a good living wage base. Convenience and access should be considered in determining when, where, and how programs are delivered, particularly because of the distance along the I-95 corridor and the security issues associated with APG. APG education and training needs are fragmented, highly specific to unit mission and responsibility, and cover a wide array of academic disciplines. These needs are not typically communicated across components or commands, thus making it extremely difficult for a unified approach to meeting those needs. The two local community colleges have been responsive to local training and education needs appropriate to their missions. There appears to be a mix of in-state and out-of-state institutions responding to local needs independent of, and through the University Center. The programmatic coverage, capacity, and availability of their respective courses and degree offerings available locally is not well documented in aggregate. This lack of a central program inventory adds to the difficulty for those seeking degree completion or continuing education beyond the community college level. This further contributes to the confusion of what role the Center plays in addressing higher education needs. Particular education programming of need that should be explored include the following. Programs on this list were selected due to the quantity of potential employment need, the lack of local access, and/or the unique discipline specialty and credential identified as needed by local employers. Graduate Level Programs: Informational Technology, Computer and Network Systems, Communications Technology, and Cyber Security (master s) Physical Sciences, including Chemistry and Material Sciences (Composites, Polymers, Ceramics, and Propellants) (master s) Educational Administration, Curriculum, Assessment (doctorate and master s) Engineering Specialties including Mechanical, Electrical, Computer Software, Power and Energy Systems (master s) Business Management and Operations with emphasis on one or two prolific local industry sectors (master s) ii

4 Baccalaureate Level Programs: Computer Systems, Networks, Information Technology, Communications Technology Cyber Security Business Management, Marketing, and Finance and Communications Nursing BSN Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Procurement, and Government Contracting Project Management Additive Manufacturing (Integrated Technology, Product Planning, Development, and Production) Teacher Education (General and Specialty) Engineering (Mechanical, Electrical, Computer Software, Power and Energy Systems) Chemical and Biological Sciences (providing a technical focus and an entrée into research, development, and production positions across the region) Two-Year/Associate Degree Programs: Nursing and Allied Health Professions Early Childhood Education IT and Engineering Technicians RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADVISORY BOARD CONSIDERATION Based on the consultant team s work in similar situations, what we heard from local stakeholders, Advisory Board members, current University Center partners, and information and experiences shared by representatives of the other Maryland Regional Higher Education Centers (RHECs), we offer the following suggestions for the Northeastern Maryland Higher Education Advisory Board to consider as they move forward with strategies to address regional higher education needs. With the understanding that the NMHEAB has no funds to develop or implement an overall marketing strategy and no authority to enact any specific recommendations or changes, the consultant team suggests the following for the Board s consideration as they continue to advocate for enhanced opportunities and efficiencies related to access and delivery of degree programs that meet regional needs. 1. Leverage the current and historical collaborations and relationships between newly added education institution members to the Northeast Higher Education Advisory Board (NMHEAB), to develop opportunities with local employers and colleges into a regional strategy for meeting needs. 2. Encourage all educational partners operating in the two-county area to consider involvement and collaboration within the structure of the University Center whenever appropriate. 3. Consider creating and periodically updating a consolidated inventory of degree programs and continuing education options available in the region by all higher education partners, excluding on-line only offerings. The list should be segmented by degree level, location and accessibility of target populations. 4. Develop a consolidated marketing and communication strategy to inform local citizens, workers, employers, and APG organizations of all educational opportunities available locally, including iii

5 those offered through community colleges, senior institutions, and specifically the University Center. 5. Identify further distinctions and differentiation of higher education and training need for various regional sub-populations including: (1) APG on-post military and civilian employees, (2) those not affiliated with the military, APG or subcontractors, (3) non-traditional working adults, and (4) local workforce-age veterans 6. Advocate for further review of the governance structure, staffing, and resources available to the University Center in order to maximize its effectiveness in helping to meet local higher education needs. This review should include NEMHEAB, the University Center Advisory Board, MHEC, and Harford Community College leadership. 7. Promote utilization of the MOU agreement and newly established processes in developing the joint UC/APG Cyber Security programs as a model for continued collaboration with other APG organizations for program development and implementation through the Center and its partner institutions. 8. Encourage APG commands and corresponding organizations to compile and consolidate lists of potential education and training needs, including specializations and estimated capacities, for use by the University Center and partner institutions. 9. Explore additional funding/revenue generating opportunities for the University Center tied to on-site and off-site program development and delivery. iv

6 MARKET REVIEW PROCESS AND SUPPORTING DOCUMENTATION Market demographic factors and trends can and should inform any decision to expand access to higher education locally. Several key points may offer support for further development of the Center. Per capita income in Cecil and Harford Counties is less than those of Maryland as a whole (approximately $1,100 and $7,000 per year, respectively). This income disparity may impact the ability of local residents to pursue higher education opportunities beyond the local public education market. The non-traditional age population (age 25-54) is projected to grow 9 percent in Cecil County buy 2025, and 15 percent in Harford County. In Harford, the total numbers for this age category are anticipated to greatly exceed that of the traditional age college pipeline population. Slightly smaller proportions of the traditional college-going population in Cecil and Harford Counties are enrolled in college or graduate school as compared to Maryland. If Cecil and Harford could match the college participation rate of the state, an additional 1,568 traditional age enrollments might be expected from the region, and would be relatively evenly divided between the two counties. Public high school enrollment is projected to remain relatively stable over the next 10 years with no significant increases in either Cecil of Harford County through Cecil and Harford Counties maintained an unemployment rate 1 percent lower than Maryland as a whole since The two counties maintained similar unemployment rates over the six-year period, and both have been declining each year since. At the graduate/professional degree level, projections for openings in the broad aggregate Healthcare Practitioner/Technical occupations lead all others by far with close to 1,000 positions needing to be filled through 2020, of which six in 10 will be newly created positions. For broad occupational categories that typically require a bachelor s degree, more than 3,300 Business/Finance/Management positions will need to be filled by 2020, in addition to nearly 2,000 STEM related positions (including approximately 175 in healthcare) across Harford and Cecil Counties. Of note, 95 percent of all occupational openings in the Architecture and Engineering fields are projected to be replacements, while two-thirds of the roughly 1,800 openings in the Education related job category are as well. Projected local occupational openings that typically require an associate degree for entry are dominated by more than 2,600 healthcare positions, of which a considerable number are in nursing. Local healthcare employers indicated in interviews, however, that bachelor s degrees will become a requirement for an increasing number of nursing openings. STAKEHOLDER INPUT Input from local employers, community leaders, and others knowledgeable about the market is critical in order to have a complete assessment of the region. Qualitative stakeholder interviews were conducted to assess higher education needs of local employers, including: Employer representatives v

7 Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) organizations Local education administrators Community leaders Northeastern Maryland Higher Education Advisory Board (NMHEAB) members University Center (the Center) Advisory Board members KEY ISSUES AND CONCERNS Three distinct markets exist within the northeastern Maryland region overseen by the Advisory Board. Though there are a number of shared circumstances and needs, each has its own culture, community connections, barriers, demographic uniqueness, and factors that influence post-secondary education opportunities, access, and participation. The Center is under management of Harford Community College, but its focus is on providing access and delivery of upper division undergraduate, graduate, and advanced continuing education, primarily to working adults. The recent relocation of Towson University undergraduate programming is both a concern and an opportunity for the Center. Access and collaboration with the complexity of organizations and commands at APG to meet education and training needs require a long-term strategy and a labor-intensive effort for the Center and its education partners. Education institutions currently serving APG are to their advantage, well entrenched. Some Maryland higher education institutions have been reluctant to be fully engaged in the Northeast region. The regional workforce needs, and thus the focus of post-secondary education needs are dominated by technical STEM and healthcare related fields, and the needs of the local school systems. However, the need for technical training and degree completion is very diverse and specialized, making it more difficult to find and attract a critical mass to drive a program cohort. Cecil College and Harford Community College have been very responsive and forward thinking in responding to local/region needs. vi

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