The state's community colleges are critical in filling shortages in several industries, including nursing, teaching, and biotechnology. That's according to a recent study done by a public policy group. Of North Carolina's 20 fastest growing occupations by job openings, the state's community college system offers training for six. The second fastest-growing job is nursing. The nursing program at Cape Fear Community College is very competitive. This past fall there were 300 applicants for just 80 positions. One nursing instructor said most graduates stay right here and work with the local healthcare system. The North Carolina Center for Public Policy study states community colleges are the most cost-effective and fastest way to produce workers needed for shortages in various fields. CFCC Nursing Coordinator and Instructor Mary Murray said, "I would like to see more support of the nursing programs. The shortage right now of nurses -- we need to stand by our nurses." The study also suggests some changes to the community college system, including a raise for faculty, which is currently ranked 46 in national salary averages. The center also recommends more funding for community colleges for higher-cost, high-demand programs that lead to high paying jobs.
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