Magazine article The Catalyst

Working Relationships with Employers

Magazine article The Catalyst

Working Relationships with Employers

Article excerpt

When President Obama gave the 2014 State of the Union Address, he spoke of "connecting companies to community colleges" and "funding proven programs that connect more ready-towork Americans with readyto-be-filled jobs."

It was quite fitting that I happened to be attending the Workforce Development Institute with colleagues from around the country when the SOTU address was made. Every time the President referenced community colleges, we cheered. We cheered because community colleges are the best resource for business and industry, and workforce development teams understand the extreme value added when corporations and colleges work together. Many of our advisory boards are made up of business and industry professionals who offer feedback to the curriculum development processes for workforce programs. Furthermore, more often than not, funding opportunities and grants are based on established collaborations between those offering training and those who have positionsto fill once training iscomplete -The perfect union of highereducation and employers.

With high unemployment and structural changes to industry, workforce development continues to be a growing concern for policy makers and educators throughout the United States. I firmly agree with the President that an optimal solution to develop human capital and narrow the skills gaps to meet industry needs for the 21st century is to connect companies with community colleges. Business and industry frequently partner with us to provide customized offerings to meet their evolving needs. By supporting workers as they earn college credit, pass qualifying tests, and complete certification and degree programs in less time than the typical structure of higher education, employers are able to promote lifelong learning among their employees to adjust and adapt skill sets. In spite of the numerous successful partnerships and established relationships with employers that we could point to, we continue to hear about a skills gap. The paradox is that for as much as we have high unemployment and so many open positions, positions remain unfilled. While I'm not advocating for employers to simply fill open positions with random unemployed people, I am suggesting that they review current open positions to determine if an unemployed candidate possesses transferable skills that could be applied to the open position. …

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