By Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Ph.D.
Over the last decade, we've seen the Bronx undergo significant economic and social progress. And yet, a great deal is still to be done, especially in the area of job creation. Like other community colleges, Hostos is an indispensable part of any strategy to create jobs in The Bronx.
A more effective effort must be made to connect the unemployed and underemployed looking for work with companies and businesses needing new employees. At Hostos, in collaboration with the New York City’s Small Business Services and FEGS, we have established a Workforce 1 Extension Center that helps individuals identify employment opportunities and obtain support throughout the application process.
If we want to reduce the unemployment rate in the Bronx we have to invest in its educational and training infrastructure. This will ensure that Borough residents have the tools and skills needed for the jobs of the future. This is why we applaud the decision of Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. to support the construction of the new Hostos Allied Health and Natural Sciences Complex announced on his State of Borough address last Tuesday. The Complex, located in one of the "opportunity zones" (South Bronx) identified by the New York Regional Economic Development Council created by Governor Cuomo, could also easily be connected with Mayor Bloomberg’s “Applied Science Initiative”.
The new Complex will house our existing Nursing, Radiology Technology, and Dental Hygiene programs, and will allow the development of more high demand allied health programs, such as, as physical or occupational therapy and respiratory therapy technician. The Complex will also facilitate the expansion of STEM programs in the natural sciences and biotechnology in order to help people from the Bronx compete for good technology-related jobs. In addition, the Complex will house a public clinic that will serve students and low-income community residents.
If a young woman, for example, from the Bronx wants to pursue a high-demand degree like Occupational Therapist Assistant, right now there is no school in the Bronx offering this program. She would have to go to Queens if she wanted to attend a public university; or she would have to finance a private school in Manhattan or Westchester that will charge anywhere from $ 15,000 to $ 50,000 a year, compared to $4,500, if the program existed at Hostos.
With our Allied Health Complex in place, that young woman could study close to her home and her family at a moderate cost. Moreover, hospitals and other health care providers would be able to recruit Bronx residents for good-paying jobs - jobs that offer the promise of professional and economic upward mobility.
Economists agree that the health and technology fields will experience significant growth in the coming years. We have to develop the Bronx’s educational and training infrastructure to avoid falling behind. We have to make these investments today to ensure the continuous improvement in the quality of life of the Bronx for years to come.
President Félix V. Matos Rodríguez
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College of the City University of New York
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