What Does The “Skills Gap” Mean For Educators?

Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy and author of the ‘Top Performers’ blog on Education Week, recently wrote a post in response to a 60 Minutes segment called, “Three million jobs in U.S., but who’s qualified?” It reminded me of a survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Achieve that provides specific information on the future of the U.S. workforce.

SHRM and Achieve surveyed more than 4,600 HR professionals this past spring from nine industries, including government; construction, mining, oil, and gas; healthcare; high tech; nonprofessional services; professional services; finance; and manufacturing. The findings were published in an October report, “The Future of the U.S. Workforce: A Survey of Hiring Practices across Industries.”

The report explains that even with today’s high unemployment numbers, employers are having a difficult time finding skilled and qualified workers for more than 3 million open jobs. SHRM and Achieve note, “There is much speculation about why this may be the case, but no matter the reason, the fact is employers are searching for employees with more training and skills than ever before–a trend that human resource (HR) professionals expect will continue in the future. This trend makes it incumbent on the United States to ensure that future generations have the academic and technical foundation needed to succeed in tomorrow’s economy and to mind that skills gap.”

The report’s major findings include: (Read more.)

Via Emily Douglas, Education Week.

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Baby Boomer College Program Reaches Completion Goal Early

A national program to help students age 50 and older returning to college train for new jobs has reached its goals two years ahead of schedule and is revving up to help more people.

Nearly 9,300 student baby boomers were assisted in the last two years by the 18 colleges participating in the Plus 50 Completion Strategy, organized by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC). Forty-six percent of those students—4,243 of them—completed degrees or certificates over the last two years.

“We are delighted to see the colleges assisting so many adults age 50 and over who are going back to college to re-train for new jobs and re-invent their careers,” said Mary Sue Vickers, director of the program at AACC.

Vickers and the college staff are planning to assist even more people over the next two years. The four-year program is funded by Lumina Foundation.

Regarding the program’s success, evaluators cite several factors in a new report. The colleges involved in the program nearly doubled the number of workforce training courses available for baby boomers in the second year of the project. Baby boomers took courses in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education, health information technology, human services, mechanics technology, computer support, nursing, pharmacy and phlebotomy. (Read more.)

Via Times Staff, Community College Times.

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Report Shows Gaps in Colleges’ Workforce Development Capacity

Even as community colleges are increasingly seen as critical resources for training workers in the post-recession economy, funding sources for training programs are drying up, challenging efforts to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs, according to a new report.

“Workforce Training in a Recovering Economy,” released by the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama, surveyed community college leaders from across the country on the status of workforce development programs. The full report is available athttp://uaedpolicy.weebly.com.

Respondents reported that expectations from business leaders, policymakers and the public for community colleges to train workers are on the rise while training funds from federal sources like the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been exhausted. High unemployment has also strained the capacity of the schools, as more people seek new training, the survey found.

“As the nation emerges from the recession, how can community colleges reach out, in both the short- and long-term, to develop the workforce when their own capacity is itself threatened?” ask the report’s authors, Stephen Katsinas, Mark M. D’Amico, and Janice N. Friedel. Katsinas is director of the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, D’Amico is a faculty member at the College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Friedel is at on the faculty at Iowa State University.

Community colleges emerged as a vital player in workforce training in the early 1980s, and attention to this role has increased in recent years as the economy has slowed. Forty-five of 49 responding state community college directors said business leaders see the schools as primary workforce training providers, up from 34 respondents in a survey conducted last year. “The data are abundantly clear: high-wage jobs require education beyond high school,” the report says. (Read more.)

Via Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week.

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Career and Technical Education Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A

Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce recently announced their latest publication, Career and Technical Education Five Ways That Pay Along the Way to the B.A.

In this study, we find that there are 29 million jobs that pay middle class wages and don’t require a four-year degree. We also explore the five major Career and Technical Education (CTE) pathways that lead to these jobs — employer-based training, industry-based certifications, apprenticeships, postsecondary certificates, and associate’s degrees — in major detail.

The full report, executive summary, and the press release can all be found here: http://cew.georgetown.edu/ctefiveways.

Why California Community Colleges Must Succeed

Imagine a state that generates a gross domestic product (GDP) that would make it the 9th largest economy in the world. A state that has seen tremendous population growth in the last 25 years, skyrocketing property values and is home to some of the best known tech firms and entertainment celebrities. Now imagine that this state has a crumbling higher education system, which was recently the topic of a Chronicle of Higher Education article. This higher education system was the envy of the nation but according to a recent report by the California Competes Council, it now needs to produce 2.3 million more adults with a post secondary credential by 2025 in order for the state to meet its workforce demand. The workhorse of this higher education system, the state’s community college system, is educating over 2.5 million highly diverse students but is faced with tremendous challenges in improving its completion rate. This community college system has been the gateway to higher education for the majority of citizens but today is turning away hundreds of thousands of students. This state is not imaginary this is California. And what is happening in California community colleges is not only important to Californians but also to the entire country.

Like many other state community college systems, California’s 112 community college system has been wrestling with huge demographic shifts along with a major contraction of its state support. Add to this the need to significantly improve the number of students that successfully complete a certificate, associate degree or are prepared to transfer. According to the 2012 Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges (ARCC) report, 53.6 percent of community college students were completing one of these key academic milestones. With only 38 percent of adults (age 25-64) having obtained at least an associates degree, the need to scale up credential attainment is made clear. More concerning is the same data broken down by ethnicity that highlights the achievement lag that exists for Latino’s and African Americans. This is troublesome for California’s economy since by 2040 more than 60 percent of the workforce will be adults of color. (Read more.)

Via Eloy Ortiz Oakley, President, Long Beach City College found in The Huffington Post.

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