Partnering with Colleges to Develop Workers

Your company needs workers with specific skills, and you can’t find qualified job candidates. Why not take a different approach and develop a workforce, by partnering with a local college?

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Colleges, especially community colleges, are often eager to help. In recent years, colleges have become more focused on linking education to employment opportunities. With this as an objective, they frequently work with area businesses to develop courses and programs that lead to workforce readiness.
Indeed, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), a leading member association for community colleges, encourages such business partnerships. It shares examples of successful programs at its website.

Wide Range of Industries

Programs have been implemented across a wide range of industries.
Aerospace and defense leader AAR Mobility Systems partnered with Wayne Community College in Goldsboro, North Carolina, to provide an eight-week welding certificate program to address a shortage of welders at the company. The fast-track, customized curriculum was available to AAR employees, as well as non-AAR employees.
Wind turbine company Vestas partnered with Northern Maine Community College to develop a Wind Power Technician program, a 71-credit AAS degree that offers broad fundamental training in the electrical, electronic, and mechanical aspects of the wind power industry, with a focus on wind turbine maintenance and electrical power production.
After being awarded a large Navy contract, shipbuilder Fincantieri Marinette Marine partnered with Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to create a program to develop highly skilled workers and meet its hiring demand.
In September, MSNBC reported that Delta Air Lines has entered into a partnership arrangement with Lansing Community College in Michigan to develop aircraft maintenance workers, who today require tech skills.

Meeting Challenges

As employers continue to struggle to fill open positions, it’s likely more will explore these kinds of arrangements.
Successful programs appear to have several things in common. First, they provide relevant, practical education and training. Additionally, programs are clearly defined, with little, if any, flexibility in terms of completion requirements. Also, programs are time sensitive – because they are tailored to working adults, accelerated learning tends to be the norm.
Although some programs, like the Wind Power Technician program at Northern Maine Community College, result in college degrees, more often than not these partnership programs award certificates of completion.
Yet while programs may not lead to degrees, they do lead to jobs. And for graduates and hiring companies, that’s cause for celebration.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

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