ACC looks at demographic, employment trends at planning retreat

Offering programs that embrace new technology and promote entrepreneurship will help Austin Community College become a flagship for training workers for in-demand jobs over the next decade, according to area experts speaking at the college’s recent strategic planning retreat.

More than 100 faculty, staff, administrators, and community members gathered October 23 to plan how the college will meet the needs of the students and employers of the future.


About 120 faculty and staff discussed trends impacting the student of the future.

The daylong retreat included presentations by representatives of the Texas Workforce Commission, Unity Technologies, and E3 Alliance who gave labor market projections and spoke about the evolving needs of students. Panelists representing entrepreneurship (Capital Factory), STEM careers (Girlstart), healthcare (CommUnityCare Health Centers), and transportation (Rifeline LLC) also discussed trends and opportunities in the region.

ACC students Luke Kindelin and Brad Freeman, along with Anita Johnson, ACC Library Services project coordinator, were on hand to discuss the makerspace movement and demonstrate projects created in ACC’s Library Services’ new makerspace.

Other takeaways from the retreat:

  • The student population will be more diverse in 10 years, with income distribution more inequitable. The college must adapt student success strategies and find ways to address the growing number of students coming from poverty.
  • By combining distance learning with virtual reality, ACC has the potential to be a “game-changer” while drastically reducing its carbon footprint. Health sciences is just one area that could use virtual reality technology to teach clinical skills.
  • ACC must align its curricula with the needs of the business community and should partner with businesses and entrepreneurs. Curricula should be developed and implemented in months, not years.
  • Texas House Bill 5 (with directives regarding high school curriculum, accountability, and assessment) will change the way students prepare for higher education.

Projects created in ACC's makerspace were on display.

Projects created in ACC’s makerspace were on display.

“We learned that ACC is in a spot where we can make a genuine difference,” says Daniel O’Hanlon, coordinator for institutional planning and assessment. “The future is within our grasp, but we must want to reach for it. “

Visit the Strategic Planning website to view retreat presentations, photos, and videos of the sessions. Retreat participants can still give feedback and share ideas using the Planning Retreat evaluation form.

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