February 28, 2011 | | Leave a comment Community colleges are becoming increasingly popular among individuals who wish to update their credentials or to change their career. These low-cost higher education institutions can help springboard people into new fields by providing the preliminary training that these profession require. For instance, officials from the North Dakota University System recently announced that area community colleges are helping to address the needs of the state's economy, Prairie Business reports. Officials told the news source that community colleges are beginning to provide more programs in fields such as energy education and sustainable vegetable production, many of which are offered online. For instance, Bismarck State College recently announced that it will offer its petroleum production technology degree program online. The curriculum will emphasize production operations as well as safety and environmental aspects of the field. The school has teamed up with local business to give students a unique experience. "The colleges have many partnerships with businesses across the state," Bill Goetz, chancellor of the North Dakota University System. "These relationships help provide community college graduates many options to stay and work in North Dakota." According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, community colleges enroll more than 44 percent of all U.S. undergraduates.