Collin College, UNT at Frisco respond to current, future job market needs

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The Metroplex’s rising occupations
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Industrial Revolution
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Enrollment in rising occupations
The University of North Texas at Frisco and Collin College are creating new degree programs not only to address current industry needs in the area but also to instill job skills for the future.

The schools are focused on health care and technology jobs, which are already in high demand in the Dallas-Fort Worth areas and are expected to continue to grow. The Texas Workforce Commission estimates these fields will account for the creation of nearly 33,000 new jobs in the metroplex between 2016 and 2026.

Leaders for UNT at Frisco and Collin College will also be looking to help Frisco, which has employment projections centering around advanced technology and sports. Mayor Jeff Cheney said this will result in a booming job market.

“We really do feel like Frisco could be the hotbed for entrepreneurial activity for decades for the central part of the United States,” Cheney said.

Attracting corporations


Frisco City Council had sought to attract a university to the city for years. Last year, the city reached an agreement with the University of North Texas for a Frisco campus, which is set to be completed in November 2022.

“We would go meet with corporations and executives and human resource officers, and increasingly, every year, there were more calls for, ‘How are you going to educate my workforce?’ and, ‘How are you educating your citizens that live there?’” Cheney said.

Access to a talent pipeline was the No. 1 reason corporations cited for wanting to move their business, said UNT at Frisco Dean Wesley Randall. Access to technology was another big factor, he said. UNT can help with that criterion with its distinction as a Tier One research institution—earned because of its high-level excellence in research and its focus on innovation and technology.

Cheney said the university’s presence will also allow the city to compete in the long term in the corporate job market.

Collin College has long had a presence in Frisco and will add its first four-year degrees in 2020 to respond to workforce needs.

Degree programs in nursing and applied technology in cybersecurity will start in January, said Sherry Schumann, Collin College’s executive vice president.

Health care


There will be nearly 20,000 new jobs related to nursing in the Metroplex between 2016 and 2026, according to the Texas Workforce Commission.

Schumann said the college’s new bachelor’s degree in nursing will help fill those jobs.

Health care positions are always in high demand in the DFW area, Schumann said. But nurses in particular will be needed as the aging population of the region increases, said Jane Leach, dean of nursing for Collin College. Frisco has a growing senior citizen population and is home to 17 retirement and assisted living communities.

The nursing degree will also address a need of many area hospitals, which are increasingly seeking nurses with a four-year degree, Leach said. Students at the community college also have the advantage of getting their degree more affordably than at most other universities, she said.

Cheney said the rise of health care jobs in the area correlates with Frisco’s growth in sports research. Frisco is home to Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star in Frisco and Scottish Rite for Children Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Center—both major sports research institutions.

Technology


Collin College’s second four-year degree set to begin in 2020 is in applied technology in cybersecurity, which covers coding and cybersecurity policy. To support that field, the college is creating an IT center at its Preston Ridge Campus in Frisco in 2021.

“It’s an opportunity to take those fields that are in high demand but also create a facility [where] teaching can be on the front edge of what’s coming,” Schumann said.

Randall said higher education institutions must also be mindful about educating students and preparing them for what does not yet exist in future fields, Randall said, especially technology-related jobs.

“We need to make sure we’re getting students degrees that are enduring,” he said.

To accomplish this goal, UNT at Frisco spent more than a year talking with industry leaders, Randall said. The result is UNT at Frisco’s new set of five literacies that students need to make it in the future job market: digital, creative, quantitative, communication and commerce.

“That has guided us as we’re creating new degree programs for Frisco,” he said.

UNT at Frisco’s undergraduate degree program called project design and analysis, which started this fall, is the first effort to bring those five literacies together, Randall said.

Operating out of Hall Park, the undergraduate program covers project management and creative problem-solving—skills that Randall said will be needed in Frisco’s future high-tech job market.

Space travel and the development of autonomous vehicles are some of the fields Randall said he expects to come into Frisco in the next 10 years. He also sees the city’s sports-related occupations merging with high-tech jobs.

“Sports spins off a lot of really cool stuff: wearable [technology], biotechnology, smart cities,” Randall said.

In preparation for this job market, Collin College is also working on adding programs in manufacturing, industrial automation, biomedical technology and facilities management, said Toni Jenkins, senior vice president for campus operations for the college.

Restaurant and hotel hospitality


Jobs in the hotel and restaurant industry are also a big focus in Frisco. Cheney said the city suffers from employee shortages in hotel and restaurant hospitality. He said UNT at Frisco’s new campus could help.

“Students here can become a part of that workforce while they’re studying for their higher educational degrees,” he said.

UNT at Frisco is working on creating a hospitality management concentration to its bachelor of applied arts and sciences degree, Randall said.

Collin College offers an Institute of Hospitality and Culinary Education program at its Preston Ridge Campus.

Through the program, Collin College works with hospitality employers to get students in the field as they complete the program, she said.

“We have seen that [Frisco] is a hub for the hospitality industry,” Jenkins said.
By Christopher Neely
Christopher Neely is Community Impact's Austin City Hall reporter. A New Jersey native, Christopher moved to Austin in 2016 following years of community reporting along the Jersey Shore. His bylines have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, USA Today and several other local outlets along the east coast.


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