Bucks County Community College: Investing in Our Future
In January 2017, Bucks County Community College (BCCC) signed agreements with three Bucks County technical high schools, as well as Bloomsburg University, to collaborate on a new Technical Entrepreneurship Degree Program, designed for job preparedness and to provide a pathway for career and technical high school students to earn a bachelor’s degree. We spoke to Professor Greg Luce, Associate Professor of Management and Marketing in BCCC’s Business Studies Department, to learn about the program and how joining forces with other Pennsylvania institutions will help meet the needs of students in a new way.
How did the Technical Entrepreneurship Degree Program come to be? What need is it filling?
We work closely with the school districts in Bucks County, and in having conversations with the directors of the technical high schools, we realized there definitely was a need and an opportunity to provide technical students who are leaving high school with – we call them technical degrees, but job-specific skills and certifications – additional skills and education to help them be more successful. We also use advisory boards to help us craft our programs. Working with all these different groups, we came to the realization that these students are leaving high school with more than a typical student would, but maybe we could provide additional knowledge and experience that will help them be more successful down the line. We explored what that looked like, and the degree sort of built out of that. The final product was a real collaboration.
The program will give students the business skills to complement their technical skills and enable them to start a business, or to be innovative in an existing business. This program is about supporting new and existing small businesses. It is officially set to begin in August 2017, but 53 high school students are currently taking courses to ultimately work toward the degree.
What makes the program unique compared to other, similar programs?
We’re working with technical high schools and all the programs that they offer. That technical degree piece from the high school can be automotive technology, medical, cosmetology – they all can work into this program, and that’s one thing that makes it unique. These students can earn up to 29 credits for their technical competencies – allowing them to complete their associate’s degree in one year after high school.
Our partnership with Bloomsburg University is also unique. Students can transfer all of their credits and credentials from the Technical Entrepreneurship associate’s program into a bachelor’s degree program at Bloomsburg. And Bloomsburg offers all courses online, as well as in its Philadelphia Center City location. It’s a somewhat unprecedented project, so we’re finding that there is a lot of support and resources under every rock that we turn.
What do you think is the future of the program, and your ultimate goal?
I look at it in stages. First is broadening awareness of the program and benefits to students across the three technical high schools. Then we look at other programs in Bucks County that offer technical degrees that may be post-high school – for example, automotive training school.
“The program will give students the business skills to complement their technical skills and enable them to start a business, or to be innovative in an existing business.”
Third is to target people currently working in technical fields who have certifications and experience, who could also enter into the program and bring their technical competencies with them. We’ve talked to a few employers who support their employees doing this, whether it’s financially or management-wise, allowing them to take courses while working.
The BCCC Admissions Department is also looking for opportunities to help subsidize tuition for dual-enrollment students who are taking college courses at their high school.
I expect the program will continue to evolve and grow, which is important because it’s such a dynamic area. It will allow us to keep delivering what students need to be effective as business owners and operators in the future.
The Governor Wolf Administration fully supports workforce training programs such as this. Earlier this year, the Governor awarded $2 million in workforce training.
For more information on the BCCC Technical Entrepreneurship degree program, visit bucks.edu and to learn more about Pennsylvania’s prestigious colleges and universities, visit dced.pa.gov. To stay up-to-date with all PA news, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter.
Greg Luce has been teaching in the Business Studies Department at Bucks County Community College since 2009. He also serves as the coordinator of the management/marketing area; co-advisor of the Bucks Business Association, the student business club; and co-coordinator of the Faculty of the Future Conference. The majority of Luce’s professional career was spent with business-to-business organizations, both for- and non-profit, in a variety of industries including technology, manufacturing and educational technology.