California is losing its higher education edge, warns a new report. State universities and community colleges must be redesigned to produce the educated workers the economy needs, said Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who commissioned the report.
The percentage of young adults earning associate and bachelor’s degrees in California already is below the U.S. average, warns the Committee for Economic Development, which wrote the report. The higher education system must be redesigned to serve an increasingly diverse and low-income population, CED advised.
Along with boosting graduation rates at Cal State and community college campuses, which enroll the vast majority of the state’s college students, the study calls for greater collaboration with for-profit private colleges, employers and K-12 schools.
Lead author Patrick Callan, president of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said that if the state is serious about meeting its “productivity challenge,” it will need to create “new kinds of institutions that take advantage of innovative instructional technologies and business plans to develop nontraditional ways of providing high-quality postsecondary education programs.”
“Modest injections of funding” and “tweaks in current educational policy and practice” won’t be enough to fix California’s underperforming higher education system, said Newsom.
Community colleges are investing in new health-care training facilities, reports Community College Times. As baby boomers age, the “medical industrial complex” is expected to grow. That means more jobs in nursing, radiology, health information technology, physical therapy, dentistry and surgical technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 26 percent spike in jobs for registered nurses by 2020, a 32 percent increase in jobs for pharmacy technicians, a 28 percent increase in jobs for radiologic technologists, and a 33 percent increase in jobs for emergency medical technicians, among other sectors.
Elgin Community College near Chicago has built a new $41 million Health and Life Sciences Building and “strengthened relations with area hospitals, clinics, and other health care partners that take our students for their clinical experiences,” says Wendy Miller, the college’s dean of health professions. The college plans to add new certificate programs in magnetic resonance imaging, computer tomography, and mammography.
A consortium of three Maryland community colleges shares the Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, which opened in August 2012. Students from Carroll Community College, Frederick Community College and Howard Community College study at the center.
Here’s how three community college teachers are using online learning to change the way they teach, reports Edudemic.
Meredith Carpenter explains how she “flips” instruction in economics and entrepreneurship classes at Haywood Community College (North Carolina).
Steve Lurenz of Mesa Community College (Arizona) uses an online forum to build a sense of community in his online history classes.
Paramedic Tom Stoudt, started Hero’s Academy, online training for emergency medical technicians in Illinois.
In many parts of California, community colleges aren’t reaching “the people who are most in need of education and technical training charges California Competes. The state will need ”2.3 million additional degrees . . . to have an engaged citizenry and robust economy.”
The group’s interactive online map shows community college enrollment by zip code and educational need. Adults with a high school diploma or less are underserved, the nonprofit group argues.
The California Competes Council recommends financial incentives for colleges that raise enrollment in high-poverty, high-unemployment areas. In addition, the council suggested collecting and analyzing enrollment data in all open-enrollment institutions, including adult education, for-profit and nonprofit colleges and UC/CSU extensions.
Community colleges should reach out to high-need students, said Robert Shireman, executive director of California Competes. Technical training may be a bigger draw than transfer to earn a four-year degree, he said.
New America Foundation’s Ben Miller is liveblogging the gainful employment negotiations at the U.S. Education Department. Sessions are expected to run through Wednesday.
Miller has more reporting on the proposed regulations, which will affect career programs at for-profit and community colleges.
If adults have to study basic skills before they start job training, most won’t make it. In Washington state, they can do both at the same time, reports NPR. Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training, better known as I-BEST, is getting adult students into the workforce quickly. More than 20 states are trying the model.
Candy Benteu teaches child development at Green River Community College. Co-teacher Rachel Rogers teaches reading, math and English. The two work together to make sure students understand idioms.
“Candy would say these phrases like, ‘Fly by the seat of your pants.’ And I would interrupt, and I’d say, ‘Does that mean I’m throwing my pants up in the air and flying?’ And she would laugh and the students would laugh because that’s what they’re thinking,” Rogers says. “By my modeling that, it gives them permission that it is OK to ask questions and that’s the sign of an intelligent and a good student.”
Benteu and Rogers also role-play appropriate workplace behavior, those “soft skills” — such as how to work in a team, follow rules and show up on time — that are critical to success. They may seem obvious, but are not.
“We have lots of conversations about the way we dress and the way we smell. Too much perfume, too much incense, not enough deodorant,” Rogers says.
Like most adult ed students, I-BEST students often are high school dropouts who struggle with reading and math. Many don’t speak English fluently. At I-BEST, they can take community college courses that lead to certificates in nearly 200 fields such as medical billing, welding, auto mechanics building maintenance and more.
All programs must lead to jobs paying at least $13 an hour, which is considered a living wage in the state.
Students at Shoreline Community College learn about the physics of manual transmissions in class, then change into overalls to work on transmissions in the shop.
Today’s cars are complex, says instructor Mark Hankins. By the end of the program, “they can go out and do a brake job, they can do fluid replacement, they can do inspections. And those are the kind of jobs that there’s a big need for.”
C.J. Forza says his brain “just clicks with engines.” He dropped out of school in the 12th grade; he’s now 31. He loves cars so much he works part time in a mechanic shop already. Forza’s now learning the “why,” not just the “how,” of repairs.
“Instead of just guessing at what it is, I’m more able to figure out, OK, this issue can be caused by this, this or this,” he says.
Forza will earn a certificate in general auto mechanics in one year, boosting his pay from $10 an hour to $15.
Federal job training dollars would go to colleges that collaborate with employers on workforce credentials, under a bill by Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, and Sen. Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican. The bill includes a pay-for-performance pilot, said Portman at an Opportunity Nation summit.
The federal government spends $15 billion a year on 46 different job training programs, said Portman. The legislation seeks a better return on the investment, he said.
. . . the two senators give two-year colleges and other career-focused institutions “priority access” to dollars for job training in the legislation, which is dubbed the Careers Through Responsive, Efficient and Effective Retraining (CAREER) Act.
“We’d like to include community colleges more,” Portman said.
The bill includes performance-based funding elements, including a pilot program that would pay colleges on the back end for their job training programs based on outcomes like job placement and earnings. That approach “rewards results and penalizes complacency,” Portman has said.
The American Association of Community Colleges hasn’t taken a position on the Bennet-Portman bill. The association supports a bill by Sen. Kay Hagan, a North Carolina Democrat, that prioritizes funding for portable, industry-recognized credentials. It does not include performance funding.
Des Moines Area Community College is a model for involving employers in job training, according to Opportunity Nation. Employers serve on advisory boards for all academic programs. That ensures students get relevant training, said the college’s president, Rob Denson. “They will hire our two-year IT grads at $65,000 a pop,” Denson said.
President Obama’s visit to Brooklyn’s P-Tech spotlighted the idea of combining high school, community college and job training, reports the New York Times. After six years at P-Tech, graduates are “first in line” for jobs at IBM, which helped create the school. Some have earned an associate degree.
Is P-Tech the wave of the future? asks the Times‘ Room for Debate blog.
Very few U.S. students attend “high-quality vocational programs tightly aligned with industry needs,” she writes.
In Switzerland, Norway and Denmark, vocational students spend half to three-quarters of their schooling in work placements.
That kind of vivid experience helps kids see into the future; they can connect the dots between what they are doing in school and how interesting their lives can be.
. . America abandoned vocational high schools for good reason, decades ago: too many were second-rate warehouses for minority and low-income kids. But now that all decent jobs require higher-order skills, there’s an opportunity to get this right. American employers want higher-order skills, and American teenagers want more interesting work. The sooner they get together, the better.
“Aiming at a moving target like the job market is dangerously short-sighted,” warns Zachary Hamed, a computer science student at Harvard.
IBM’s Stan Litow calls for P-Tech-like options for students on the Shanker Blog.
“Young people who enter the workforce with only a high school diploma are expected to earn no more than $15 per hour, and many will earn less,” he writes. Yet only 25 percent of high school graduates who enroll in community college complete a degree in six years.
IBM analyzed a community college freshman class. “Nearly 100 percent of community college freshmen who required two remedial courses—with one of them being math—failed to complete even one postsecondary semester,” Litow writes. A majority of these students dropped out of college within two months.
Recruiting and training new textile workers for jobs in the U.S. is a challenge, reports the New York Times.
The American textile and apparel industries, like manufacturing as a whole, are experiencing a nascent turnaround as apparel and textile companies demand higher quality, more reliable scheduling and fewer safety problems than they encounter overseas. Accidents like the factory collapse in Bangladesh earlier this year, which killed more than 1,000 workers, have reinforced the push for domestic production.
But because the industries were decimated over the last two decades — 77 percent of the American work force has been lost since 1990 as companies moved jobs abroad — manufacturers are now scrambling to find workers to fill the specialized jobs that have not been taken over by machines.
In Minneapolis, manufacturers teamed with a nonprofit and a technical college to train new workers in a six-month program two or three nights a week.
Applicants needed to speak English well enough to communicate with supervisors and to be able to measure precisely. Eighteen students enrolled in the first session. Half were immigrants. Charities and the city covered the $3,695 tuition. Students will be expected to pay for the course themselves in the future.
After the course, the companies, which pay to belong to the coalition, sponsored students for a three-week rotation on their factory floors and a two-week internship at minimum wage. Then the free-for-all began as the members competed to hire those graduates who decide to pursue a career in industrial sewing.
But only nine students completed the course and applied for sewing jobs, which paid $12 to $16 an hour.
Airtex Design Group, which now pays $11.80 an hour for Chinese workers, decided to train new workers on the factory floor. The company uses a technical-college instructor and existing employees. “The reality is, if we want good workers we know we have to train them and bring them in ourselves,” (Airtex President Susan) Shields said.
While older Americans scored well, younger Americans lagged behind workers in other developed countries, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Two-thirds of Swiss teens choose to “combine learning at the workplace and learning in a classroom,” says Schwartz. Switzerland has the “lowest youth unemployment rate in the developed world, yet it ranks very high in innovation and economic performance.
When you talk to Swiss leaders and ask how can this be, you have such a small fraction of your young people going through the university system, the Swiss will say, “No, no, it’s because we really invest in preparing folks who are at the front lines and we look to our kind of everyday workers to provide a lot of the innovation that really spurs the economy.”
Young Swiss apprentices are put to work immediately, says Hoffman.
. . . in the banking industry, we saw 16-year-olds in suits and little round glasses all sitting next to their hedge fund managers and actually handling aspects of accounts. You go to Swiss.com which is the biggest telephone Internet provider in Switzerland and there they have an extremely innovative program where students can choose to work on any project that any employer posts on a bulletin board.
By the third year, at age 17 or 18, apprentices earn about $1,000 a month, says Schwartz. Once they complete the program, they’ve earned a valuable qualification which puts them “on a ladder to a middle-class wage.” That idea is spreading to the U.S.
. . . Volkswagen, which operates a 3,000-person plant in Chattanooga proudly announced the completion of a first apprenticeship program in automotive mechatronics for 25 young people. They do this in partnership with a regional community college there. These people now have a qualification that is worldwide in value.
Vocational education isn’t stigmatized in Switzerland, Finland and other countries that have modernized their systems, Hoffman says.
So while they teach construction and they teach carpentry and they teach the old trades, the system is really known as the place you go if you want any kind of high-tech skills. If you want to be an engineer, if you want to work in IT, if you want to learn graphic design, if you want to be a nurse, if you want to be a childcare teacher, you go to the vocational system.
In Switzerland, vocational students can go on to the University of Applied Sciences. At Credit Suisse, 40 percent of apprentices also were studying for a professional baccalaureate, says Schwartz. “There are no dead ends.”