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The Missing Link Between School and Job

Global Foundries is making a $10 billion investment in a semiconductor plant just outside of Saratoga. They’ll need over a thousand tech employees, workers who will be earning $50,000 a year and up, who are capable of working in an advanced manufacturing environment, but who do not need a four year degree.

How would you script the path to finding these employees?

Wolk Center at Monroe Community College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wolk Center at Monroe Community College (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Global Foundries is working with a number of SUNY Community Colleges, who developed 15-week certificate programs to train high school graduates who will not only meet the current needs, but who will also have enough higher order skills to adapt to different advanced manufacturing jobs in the future.

No one school had the resources for all the different jobs. So, using Global Foundries as the catalyst for change, the SUNY Community College System, under Johanna Duncan-Poitier, pooled together 30 campuses to develop paths to middle skill jobs, such as those in advanced manufacturing. What one school cannot offer, another one is able to provide, and they can share resources and course content.

This is a success story, but it’s not unique. We learned of many examples at the American Council of Community Colleges Conference last week.

Community Colleges across the country have become the bridge between high school and either jobs or 4-year degrees or both.

Maricopa Community Colleges and Arizona State University have created seamless paths for Community College Students to go from start to four year employable degree in four years, and for far less money than starting out at a four year school.

The Community College of the District of Columbia works with hotels, clubs, restaurants, and corporate dining facilities to create paths to management for minorities in the hospitality industry.

Clusters of Community Colleges around the country participate in the NSF’s Advanced Technical Education program, and partner with industry to provide career specific training, some of which leads to certificates, some leads to Associate Degrees, and all lead to jobs in fields such as agricultural and bio technologies, energy and environmental technologies, and advanced manufacturing technologies.

The US Department of Labor just this month (April 2014) announced the Registered Apprenticeship College Consortium, which is developing pathways for students to apprentice at companies and study at Community Colleges to gain access to high paying careers.

Maybe all of us in the education sector should be paying more attention to Community Colleges; they seem to be leading the way to higher paying employment opportunities for students.