About Community College:
Community colleges in developed countries like the United States of America, Germany, and South Africa provide skill training for a variety of middle-level jobs in technical and vocational fields. Indeed, the number of graduates from community colleges in these countries is as many as double to that of university graduates. The role of community colleges is vital in workforce development and ultimately giving a boost to overall country’s economy. The concept has recently been adapted in the developing countries like Pakistan where community colleges are now being seen as a solution to fill the gap between highly skilled professional and unskilled laborer.
Afghanistan is also suffering from severe shortage of mid-level technical and professional workforce in fields of information technology, engineering, health, social work, finance, laboratory technician, bio medical and other areas which serve the important role in the country’s economic development. This shortage is either compensated by importing the skilled workforce from neighboring countries like Pakistan, India, and Iran or hire the unskilled laborer for the job which requires middle-level skills. These unskilled laborers are either provided with on job training or they work on products without possessing necessary skills thus affecting overall production time (on job training time) and quality (due to unskilled laborer).
The results of Altai Consulting on Employment Market Rapid Assessment report that 76% companies train their employees immediately after hiring, 6% said they send the employees to third party service, 16% responded that they receive training informally on the job and only 2% said that training is not provided by the company. The employer’s need for extensive training to the employees after hiring shows that the skill level does not meet the employer’s needs.
The report also mentions that Afghanistan job market needs the middle-level skilled professional in the fields of food processing, electricity, air transport, IT services, media, agricultural production, education, business services, livestock, light industry, printing & publishing, health services, public sector, NGOs and civil engineering. This is where community colleges can play an important role i.e. producing middle-level skilled graduates in the fields which are immediate need of job market.
First Community College in Afghanistan
The first community college in Afghanistan was established at Kabul Polytechnic University with the support of USAID project of University Support Workforce Development Program (USWDP). The steering committee for the new colleges was formed in the year 2012 and the college launched its first Associate Degree in Information Technology in the year 2014. This is a two and half years (five semesters) degree program with four semesters of course work and the fifth semester of internship/project. Currently, two cohort students are enrolled in the degree program and they have completed their first and third semesters respectively.
Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE) views community college as university level institution which represents a division of level with training designed for specific types of jobs in government, the private sector and for initiating own business i.e. the concept of entrepreneurship. The community college has been established with following goals,
- Meet a critical need for university level training in professional and technical areas that are currently not being met.
- Increase access for students in areas where there are critical shortages of trained graduates such as engineering technicians, medical technicians, finance, and business.
- Provide programs available to people in the evenings so that those who are employed can have access to this training without quitting their daytime employment.
- Produce trained people ready for middle level technical and professional jobs quickly.
- Prepare graduates for employment at a low cost, using existing facilities, and primarily existing staff.
- Provide university level training through community colleges without a new administrative structure – the community colleges at the outset will be established on existing higher education campuses and administratively be under the chancellor of that institution.
- Recognize that not everyone needs a four-year university education – this two-year terminal university level degree which represents a division of labor between university and community college education, not a hierarchy.