Career and Technical Education Program Expansion

Overview

Digital Media and Design is one of five Career and Technical Education programs in the Com Arts Division at College of Lake County. While the program enjoyed stable enrollment over the past ten years, when I joined the division in 2019, I identified expanding DMD as one of our top strategic priorities. This work has been part of my larger effort to reconfigure our Fields of Interest to better align both with the Illinois Pathways Initiative, but also to provide clearer career and transfer pathways for students interested in the arts and media.

Project Scope

Working closely with DMD faculty and department chairs, we are significantly expanding our outreach and support for students pursuing graphic design, web design, social media management, and digital audio and visual production. This work has entailed developing five new certificates over the past two years, significantly expanding our dual credit offerings, and strengthening our already significant internship relationships with major employers across the district. With the launch of our new digital recording studio, we are currently developing additional certificates in audio/video technology and audio production with goal of doubling the size of the program overall in the next 15 months.

Overview of our DMD Program

 

Labor Market Analytics

Our expansions efforts have been guided by careful analysis of labor market data, particular the use of EMSI tools to help identify high demand, high growth occupations that provide family sustaining wages for our students. As a result of this work we selected the Graphic Design pathway as a primary area of focus for the next five years.  Not only does our region boast higher than average demand and wages for Graphic Designers, but the field supports a range of credential and degree types–meaning that our students can immediately benefit from both our basic and advanced certificates, with excellent prospects for transfer if and when they choose to pursue an advanced degree.

We selected our Lakeshore Campus in Waukegan as the primary site for these expansion plans not only because we see great potential in building out our dual-credit and adult education pipelines in this region of the county, but in support of our broader efforts to expand “workforce equity.” Indeed, the field of Digital Media and Design is racially and culturally diverse, and so we see real potential in bringing these well-paying careers to an area that continues to suffer significant economic hardship.

Outcomes

Our latest enrollment projections suggest the changes we are undertaking will have a positive fiscal impact for the college, even with the added investments required in upgrading our studio and classroom spaces on our Lakeshore Campus. Indeed, we see the initiative as being budget neutral in the short-term, with expanded tuition revenue from our existing certificates offsetting the costs of additional equipment investments.