Where the jobs are — and the training

Upgrading job skills to match job openings is requiring colleges to work more closely with employers, reports the New York Times.

“We’ve become much more focused, much more agile and much more driven by what the data is telling us on where the jobs are,” said Bob Templin, president of Northern Virginia Community College. “We’re very market-oriented now, whereas before we would offer the courses that people were interested in teaching and we’d see who would show up.

The nation’s employers have 3.4 million job openings, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Most require technical skills.

Northern Virginia Community College has added programs in cybersecurity and geospatial information systems in response to employers’ needs.

Ian Sullivan had a bachelor’s degree in geology and four years in the Army, where he used satellite and drone data to create maps in Iraq. He enrolled in NVCC to “skill up” to match geography professionals.

. . . Over two years of classes — he said he much preferred in-person classroom study to taking courses online — he learned how to use mountains of electronic data from satellites and aircraft to make elaborate two- and three-dimensional maps showing roads, buildings, railroads, even fire hydrants.

“I paid about $350 a semester, less than $2,000 to acquire the additional skills,” said Mr. Sullivan, who obtained his certificate in geospatial technology in December.

He was hired to develop maps for BAE Systems, a company that develops defense, security and aerospace systems.

Miami Dade College expanded continuing-education programs to meet the demand for health-care workers and insurance adjusters.


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