Community colleges and other two-year institutions will get $2 billion in federal funds over the next four years to provide “cutting-edge” job training, notes National Journal. What’s the best use of the money?
Accelerate, writes Lumina Foundation’s Jamie Merisotis. Laid-off workers — the target of the funds — can’t afford to wander through years of classes.
Accelerated associate degree programs that allow students to achieve job-relevant postsecondary degrees and credentials in a year or less are being tested by states and institutions with the goal of helping students earn quality credentials that have real value in the new economy. These include programs at the statewide Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, and at the City University of New York.
Tennessee’s Technology Centers, which enable students to earn a vocational certificate in a year or less, have achieved a 75 percent completion rate with 83 percent of graduates finding jobs in their field.
Students sign up for a program, not individual courses, and advance as a cohort through an integrated series of classes offered in a block Monday through Friday – usually from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Going to school becomes a full-time job, and students do it on a predictable schedule that allows for family and other obligations.
Community colleges need to design programs to move students quickly and reliably to a job, Merisotis writes.
Students know up front how much it will cost to complete the program and when they’ll finish – and how likely they are to find a job afterwards. Math, English, remedial help – all subjects fit into the context of a particular program so students see every lesson benefits their progress.
I agree with Merisotis and add a bit more to the discussion.