Last week the system announced record enrollment numbers statewide with 111,254 students attending the technical schools. Those numbers are up 24 percent over 2008 enrollment numbers.
Locally, Georgia Northwestern Technical College had a record enrollment of 6,072 students for fall 2009, an increase of 18 percent.
According to Tom Bojo, Dean of Public Service Technology for GNTC, those numbers are a direct reflection of the quality and value a student can receive at Georgia’s technical schools.
Last year GNTC unveiled a new Basic Law Enforcement program under the Public Service Technology umbrella, which also includes the school’s criminal justice program.
In June the program’s first group of graduates received certification, and 98 percent of them went on to jobs in local law enforcement. Two graduates from the program, Joshua Justice and Antonio Cedano, are now officers with the Calhoun Police Department.
“They were two well-rounded basic officers when they got here,” said Calhoun Police Chief Garry Moss. “We are very pleased with them and they are going to be good officers.”
“The program is successful because of the combination of training and academics,” said Bojo. “The program is appealing to recruiters because we are turning out guys who are prepared and ready to hit the road.”
The 20-week Basic Law Enforcement program is competitive, with only 15 applicants accepted each semester. Once students are admitted they must maintain passing scores in classes such as criminal and constitutional law classes, defensive tactics and criminal investigations.
On Nov. 12 a new class of potential officers will graduate from the program and Bojo says the stu-dents are ready for jobs.
“We are graduating students who are ready to be badge carrying, patrol car driving, gun carrying officers,” Bojo said.
The students also graduate with 408 Peace Officer Standards and Training hours, along with 59 college credits.
“They are getting an excellent educational value and training that creates a better recruit,” Bojo said.
When students graduate from the Basic Law Enforcement program, or any other GNTC program, Bojo points out, they are immediately ready to enter the workforce.
“They are certified and ready,” Bojo said.
It is value and career preparedness that are adding to the increased enrolment numbers accord-ing to TCSG Commissioner Ron Jackson.
Jackson said that students are turning to technical colleges for training in career fields that are still in demand, such as healthcare, computer information systems, and business and office technologies.
“If there’s an upside in this down economy, it’s that the state’s technical colleges are helping tens of thousands of Georgians learn highly marketable skills and find their new place in today’s changing workforce,” Jackson said.
GNTC offers more than 200 programs of study including the basic law enforcement program. GNTC is a part of the TCSG which offers 600 certificate, diploma and degree programs.