Jobs require more education, training

Employers are demanding more education and technical training, according to a survey of human resource professionals by Achieve and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Compared with 10 years ago, more jobs today require technical and STEM skills and a higher education level, many HR professionals said. That trend will continue, they predicted. By contrast, there are fewer entry-level jobs.

Future administrative and secretarial positions will require more education such as an associate’s degree (said 21 percent of HR professionals) or a post-secondary certificate (said 11 percent);

For salaried, individual contributors and professionals, future positions will require a bachelor’s degree (said 71 percent of HR professionals) or an associate’s degree (said 12 percent);

Skilled laborers such as technicians, mechanics, and foremen will need a specific post-secondary certificate or specific credentials for future jobs (said 31 percent of HR professionals);

While most workers with only a high-school diploma can advance in their workplace, that will be more difficult in the future, HR professionals said.

Health care, manufacturing and government jobs require more education than they did 10 years ago, the survey concluded. In the next three to five years, that trend will extend to high-tech jobs and  professional services.

Tech colleges to link funding, job placement

Job training is job one in the Texas State Technical College System, which is working on a “returned-value” model that would link all college funding to graduates’ employment and earnings, reports the Texas Tribune.

. . . administrators at TSTC, a network of public two-year institutions that provide technical training, . . .  are working with the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to develop a model that bases the system’s entire state funding amount on the job placements and projected earnings of graduates.

“You won’t find a better example of total accountability, because we won’t get paid for a student until we put him in a job,” said TSTC Chancellor Michael Reeser.

However, it’s not clear the state has the accurate job data needed to make the model work.

The board is looking for ways to link university and community college funding to student outcomes, but is not likely to use “returned value,” the Tribune reports.

Public colleges and universities should be willing to link funding to student learning, writes Thomas Lindsay on Phi Beta Cons.

Academically Adrift . . . reports that 45 percent of students showed “little if any growth over the first two years of college in their ability to perform tasks requiring critical thinking, complex reasoning, and written communication as measured by the Collegiate Learning Assessment (CLA).” After four years in college, more than one in three continued to show “little if any growth.”

The CLA or the comparable Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) could be used to measure whether students have learned anything, Lindsay proposes.

Where workers come from

Community colleges are Where the Workers Come From, according to The Street.

The dizzying increase in college tuition has opened a debate about whether higher education really pays off. What’s not debatable is that many jobs do require specialized training beyond a high school degree. And that training includes technical skills that aren’t taught at Harvard or Yale, such as how to process paperwork at a busy medical practice, or troubleshoot a robotic arm on an automated assembly line.

As many as 1 million jobs are going unfilled for lack of qualified applicants, estimate economists at the New York branch of the Fed.

President Obama proposed an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund in his 2013 budget to held colleges partner with employers on job training, though it’s not clear the funding will get through Congress.

Community Colleges Offer Cheaper Alternative to Grad School, suggests U.S. News. I think the idea is that four-year graduates who need to switch careers can learn new skills at a community college, rather than investing time and money for a graduate degree.  It’s not an uncommon strategy for people with bachelor’s degrees in Canada.

Demand is high for wind technicians

Community colleges are training wind technicians in North Dakota and other states, reports AP.

“The demand (for wind technicians) is such that some (colleges) have been trying to keep companies away from the program because they want everybody to graduate first,” said Christine Real de Azua, a spokeswoman for the American Wind Energy Association. “In some cases, students are being picked up after only a couple of months.”

Last year, 3,200 new wind turbines were installed across the nation as power companies responded to the push for more green energy. It brought the total number of towers with wind-catching blades to more than 25,000, the association said.

The structures vary in size and energy output, but Azua said a general rule is that a two-person operation and maintenance team are needed for every 10 turbines.

Iowa Lakes Community College has expanded its training program, but employer demand is growing even faster. Some students get three or four job offers, program director Al Zeitz told AP.  “Employers are coming to us saying, ‘We want to hire 50 people this summer. We want to hire 100 people this summer.”

The patient is a mannequin

A state-of-the art health-care simulation lab is helping future nurses and respiratory therapists practice their skills at Kennebec Valley Community College in Augusta, Maine, reports the Kennebec Journal.

When Jake Heart was brought to the hospital, he was struggling to breathe, had a barking cough, swollen ankles and complained of being tired.

Paramedics relayed Heart’s vital signs and condition to nurses and respiratory therapists and they got to work — talking with Heart, starting an intravenous drip, monitoring his blood pressure and listening to his lungs.

Heart will be back for treatment. The “$30,000 anatomically correct mannequin who breathes, blinks, bleeds, sweats, talks, has bodily functions and can have seizures” is the star patient at the college’s four-bed lab, which resembles a hospital room.

Instructors manipulate Heart, a medical mannequin, from a computer in a control room. Instructors view the lab and students through five one-way windows.

“It’s such a powerful educational tool,” said Marcia Parker, director of nursing at the college.

As Jake Heart was being treated, the lab’s “elderly” mannequin was recovering from a broken left leg set with a red cast, while a pediatric mannequin was lying in bed holding a teddy bear.

The college hopes to acquire a birthing mannequin and open the lab for training by police, fire and rescue units.

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.

‘Corporate colleges’ train apprentices

Community colleges are developing learn-while-you-earn apprenticeships that are customized to employers’ needs, reports Community College Times.  The American Association of Community Colleges‘ Workforce Development Institute discussed college-based apprenticeships at a recent meeting.

In South Carolina, Midlands Technical College (MTC) has worked with Blue Cross Blue Shield to design training that will turn college graduates into network support technicians, web systems programmers and web systems analysts with industry-specific skills. The state’s Apprenticeship Carolina program lets companies can claim a $1,000 annual tax credit for each apprentice.

In Texas, the new Engineering and Manufacturing Institute at the Lone Star College System’s Corporate College trains employees in the oil and gas, alternative energy and automated manufacturing industries. Workers may participate in training for two to four years, while working.

The Employ Florida Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Polk State Corporate College (PSCC) supports training and apprenticeship programs.

. . . the Mosaic fertilizer company turned to the Banner Center to train new multi-skilled maintenance workers to offset an impending wave of retiring employees.

“They couldn’t find enough qualified people, so we worked with them to create an apprenticeship program,” said Eric Roe, director of applied technology at PSCC.

Apprentices take competency-based training courses at the center twice a week for two years, while spending three days a week in the field for on-the-job training. There are two cohorts, one in electrical instrumentation and automation and one in mechanic/millwright skills with 16 students in each group.

Apprentices earn a series of credentials, plus up to 15 college credit hours. The credits make it easier for workers to go on to earn an associate degree.<

Nursing graduates can’t find jobs

California nursing graduates are having trouble finding their first job, reports the Sacramento Bee.  As experienced nurses delay retirement and hospitals try to avoid training expenses, nursing graduates are working unpaid internships to break into the profession.

Barbara Elwell earned an associate degree in nursing in May from the College of Marin, but she’s still job hunting.

“We’ve gone through all these classes and this training, and yet, I’m a licensed RN in this country, and I can’t find a job.”

California doubled the number of nursing graduates, reports the Bee.

As recently as three years ago, hospitals were offering moving expenses, housing allowances and signing bonuses to recent graduates of nursing schools.

Veteran nurses who need no training are still in demand, but new nurses are volunteering or taking part-time jobs to gain experience.

In the next 10 years, baby boomers will retire, the state’s insured population will grow and nurses will be in short supply again, predicts Timothy Bates, a program analyst at the Center for the Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco.


Tennessee college trains chemical workers

Chattanooga State Community College will help train train chemical workers for Wacker Chemical’s new solar plant in Tennessee. The Germany company plans to hire 650 to 700 workers to make polysilicon for solar panels, reports the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Wacker’s total investment could exceed $1.5 billion.

Wacker donated $3 million to the college for the construction of a state-of-the-art chemical training plant for Wacker Institute.

About 4,300 people applied for the first 60 jobs filled, the company says.

The first employees, most of whom are lead chemical operators, will spend six months in Chattanooga and another six in Germany receiving training. When they come back to Southeast Tennessee, they’ll help train new Wacker employees, officials said.

Chemical operators will make about $50,000 a year.

. . . Jim Catanzaro, the college’s president, said while Chattanooga State handles training for many businesses, the partnership with Wacker is unusual. “This is far more aggressive,” he said.

Chattanooga State has hired five faculty members for the Wacker Institute. All have trained in Germany.

Students opt for vocational programs

More college students are choosing vocational programs, reports CNBC.

Schools offering a more career-oriented approach to higher education continue to enjoy double-digit growth, fueled by a sluggish economic recovery, accelerated stimulus spending and a more practical student mindset.

. . . Revenue at for-profit technical and trade schools jumped nearly 11 percent over the past 12 months, after posting more than 12 percent growth the year before, according to the Sageworks financial analysis firm. Growth averaged between 6-7 percent in 2007 and 2008.

“I’ve seen tremendous growth in the number of students enrolling in vocational or technical colleges and for-profit institutions that specialize in convenient, practical coursework,” says educational consultant Steven Roy Goodman. “The IT guy, the electrician, the people who maintain the 911 system or the electrical grid – they make more money because they have more value to society.”