NORWALK, Conn. -- Norwalk Community College President David Levinson says the school is strengthening its focus on instilling its students with skills in science, technology, engineering and math to help them find jobs after graduation.
With more jobs focusing on skills in science and technology, Levinson said it is important that NCC provide its students with education and experience they will need to excel in today's job market. Connecticut will need to fill 107,000 new STEM jobs by 2018, and by 2020 90 percent of jobs will require some STEM skills.
The college has instituted a number of recent initiatives to promote STEM education to its students, who number more than 6,500 and come from across Fairfield County, Levinson said in a recent interview.
Earlier this year, NCC partnered with Norwalk Public Schools and IBM to launch the Norwalk Early College Academy. The program will allow each student to receive a high school diploma and a no-cost associate's degree in applied science from NCC in six years. The students in the program will be matched with mentors from IBM, who will also arrange worksite visits, internships and other help to give students the experience they need to enter the workforce.
The program, announced in April by Gov. Dannel Malloy, will begin in September at Norwalk High School with an initial class of 100 students.
"This gives kids something to work for. It gives them the knowledge needed for many jobs in the future, and it gives them skills that will serve them in what they do," Levinson said.
In 2011, NCC received a $12.1 million federal grant to help launch the Connecticut Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative. This has allowed NCC to launch new degree programs in fields such as veterinary technology, which prepares students to work as technicians in clinics, labs and animal hospitals.
"Focusing on health and science is very important to us," Levinson said.
NCC is also one of three colleges in the nation to lead the STEM Regional Collaborative Initiative, Levinson said. Along with Miami Dade College in Florida and Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio, NCC is working to improve college-to-career pathways in STEM occupations. They are also working to strengthen relationships and coordination between colleges and workforce partners.