Working Together: The Benefits
Scholarships and Financial SupportBusinesses can help provide financial support through scholarships to students, or by directly financially supporting partner community college’s training programs, allowing students and schools to have the resources they need to ensure successful training.
- Scholarship Example Grainger’s Tools for Tomorrow® scholarship program awards two $2,000 scholarships annually to students enrolled in their final year of an industrial trades program with a 3.0 GPA or higher at 100 community colleges across America. In 2013, half of the scholarships were offered to students who are military veterans.
Industry ExpertiseThe intellectual property and know-how that comes from a business is an undeniable resource for an effective partnership, providing students with job-ready skills from the beginning by giving them up-to-date knowledge. This includes businesses working with community colleges to develop course content, offering industry expertise through supports such as curriculum development, instructor training or even having employees teach in the classroom.
- Curriculum Example DuPont Washington Works, one of the largest DuPont manufacturing facilities in the world, works closely with West Virginia University at Parkersburg to develop the curriculum for the Learn and Earn program. The curriculum focuses specifically on the skills needed to meet the demands of polymer companies in and around Parkersburg, West Virginia, and gives selected students the opportunity to earn a 30-hour certificate of applied science in chemical and polymer operator technology.
- Curriculum Example At the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pennsylvania, the college developed a standard curriculum for manufacturing which was then shared with partner companies to review and participate in ongoing conversations. As CCAC’s Vice President for Workforce Development Alicia Booker put it, “We want employers at the table to review our curriculum. If it doesn’t match, then it’s useless. We can be flexible.”
- Instructor Training Example The National Coalition of Certification Centers (NC3) network trains instructors every summer in a 2-week program, churning out about 70 instructors each year to teach 17 certifications in transportation, energy and aviation across the country. This focus on instructor training also includes regionally located NC3 leadership schools that provide instructional material development, train-the-trainer activities and mentoring to NC3 education members.
Equipment and FacilitiesBusinesses can contribute equipment and facilities—from helping create or fund a full-scale facility on campus to the use of a business’ in-house training centers. This contribution to community college training programs allows businesses to know future workers will be knowledgeable about the equipment and environment they will encounter on the job.
- Equipment Example Grainger’s Tools for Tomorrow® program includes a donated customized Westward® toolkit to each scholarship winner after they graduate to kick-start their career.
- Equipment Example At Sandvik Coromant, special pricing is extended to all educational institutions on the company’s full range of tools.
- Facilities Example At the Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) in Pennsylvania, facility designers have created a training floor that looks just like the manufacturing floor at the business they partner with by working with the company to simulate their environment. At Gateway Technical College in Wisconsin, facility designers and directors also work directly with facility designers at partner businesses to see how companies’ facilities are set-up so the institution can simulate the design in the classroom.
- Facilities Example In Texas, the power company Luminant constructed a 24,000-square foot training facility at Tyler Junior College that includes classrooms, training labs and high-fidelity boiler simulators that imitate the actual operation of Luminant power plants, and now trains nearly 300 students per year using the facility.
Work ExperienceBusinesses can offer work experience, in the form of paid internships, on-site training or apprenticeships , giving students the opportunity to link classroom instruction with practical work experience in a company and industry. Internships and apprenticeships can be an important part of ensuring the potential job candidate will have the combination of academic and technical training, professional skills and work experience that businesses value. It also allows employers to see potential hires in action.
- Paid Internships Example After the first semester in the partnership program with Savannah Technical College, Georgia-Pacific interviews and selects 2 candidates to work 20 hours a week in the company’s facility, while attending school. They are paid as part-time workers, and are hired at the end of the program.
- Paid On-Site Training Example With DuPont’s one-year Learn and Earn program, students rotate in groups of 10 between 2 semesters of coursework at West Virginia University at Parkersburg and 2 three-month rotations of paid on-site training at the DuPont plant. The state of West Virginia and DuPont each cover half the cost to pay students for the work done during each 3-month rotation. The paid work rotations reinforce knowledge gained in the classroom by providing a supervised work experience in manufacturing methods, process operations, planning and scheduling and equipment operation. Students are considered for employment after successful completion of the program.
- Apprenticeships Example Florida Power & Light, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, developed an Apprenticeship Degree and Qualification Program with a local labor union and Indian River State College to help train new workers and address the problem of an aging workforce in the nuclear energy industry. NextEra Energy’s partnership program includes a 2-year degree program and a 1-year on-site apprenticeship. The apprenticeship is dedicated to providing site-specific labs and practical exercises to prepare the candidates for a career at a local power plant station and is delivered almost exclusively by apprentice instructors.
Soft Skills AssistanceTeaching participants soft skills, like interviewing techniques, resume writing, test prep, leadership and professional guidance, are often woven into some of the most successful partnerships for training skilled trades workers. These soft skills can give students a leg up and make sure they fit in with a business’s culture when applying for a job.
- Soft Skills Example In addition to technical training, in their PowerPathway™ program, PG&E focuses on what they call “intangibles,” such as test prep, resume building and mock interviews. This includes working with community college partners to use on-campus resources to reinforce soft skills training. Jacob Cordova, a PowerPathway™ graduate and military veteran mentioned a 22-year old veteran in his program who “didn’t have interviewing skills or resume writing skills” and noted how much the soft skills assistance like writing workshops made his fellow graduate more marketable.
Leadership and AdvocacyBusiness and community college leaders can serve on advisory boards at local, state and national levels to promote community college partnerships and share promising practices. In policy debates, they can act as strong advocates for their industry and for industry partnerships that help businesses meet their skills needs.
- Advocacy Example As an owner of a smaller company, Permac Industries President Darlene Miller focuses her energies on being a local and national champion for partnerships as the way to ensure more workers are trained for the skilled trades. She helped create Right Skills Now, an initiative to develop a nationally replicable fast-track solution for small manufacturers.
- Advocacy Example Grainger started an awareness campaign, partnering with the American Association of Community Colleges to promote awareness about job opportunities in the industrial trades professions and highlight the key role community colleges play as the nation’s training ground for these careers.
The most exciting part of creating or participating in these partnerships is how everyone can benefit, especially by building upon what we already know works. Each set of stakeholders can gain from these partnerships – and with strong communication and the flexibility to adjust to evolving needs – can work together like a well-oiled machine.
Win for the BusinessBusiness leaders who have helped build partnerships see the clear advantages, with access to a pool of qualified and skilled candidates.
- Remove the Hiring Guesswork Hiring can be time-consuming and drain resources. When individuals have access to the skills training valued by businesses, they enter employment better prepared to meet their employer’s expectations. For businesses, they can be assured individuals will meet their skill requirements, since they worked with the community college to provide input or develop the training program.
“Fishing in the experienced talent pool is expensive. We believe we can hire and build people out of a program and into job…that way is a better value proposition.”
“If students are taking the time to do the program, it shows their dedication to learning these skills, the industry and sometimes the company.”
- Get Workers with Desired Skills Partnerships help businesses ensure they are bringing on incoming workers who have been trained with an understanding of their skills needs. Businesses know the students have the required skills, credentials and training as a direct result of an orchestrated partnership.
- Create a Ready-Made Worker Pipeline and Retain Workers Longer Partnerships allow businesses to put a training program in place, creating a continual pipeline of new employees and a capacity to train-up current employees. By building and adapting the partnerships, businesses can create a pipeline to access the skilled workers they need. For many companies, these programs have also led to increased employee retention.
- Example In 2007, a local power plant station with Florida Power and Light formed a partnership with the local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) union and Indian River State College. Through the Apprenticeship Degree and Qualification Program, with a 2-year degree program and 1-year apprenticeship, the company sought to hire 20 graduates a year over the next 10 years. The partnership is allowing the local facility to grow its own pipeline by targeting new workers who will have a greater propensity and incentive to stay with a company in their community.
- Be More Productive and Get Ahead As Grainger’s CEO Jim Ryan knows, one of the ways you get more productive is to look at what you’re doing—and then figure out ways to do it smarter and better. But, as he put it: “If you’re always chasing employment and always trying to catch up and find somebody to fill jobs, you’re not able to take a step back and look at your business and figure out how to improve it.” Partnerships can reduce hiring and training costs, and ensure a more skilled and effective workforce while allowing businesses to focus efforts towards improving in other areas.
Win for the Community CollegePublic private partnerships can be a key to sustaining the future of community colleges, especially at a time of scarce public resources, allowing the community colleges to work with local industry to train individuals for available jobs.
- Align Training with Local Need Partnerships ensure that the education and training being provided by local community colleges are better aligned to local labor markets. This allows the college to become an asset to local businesses and regional industries.
“We are excited about the new roles that companies are willing to play to mobilize powerful partnerships and increase the capacity of the community college to ensure opportunity and economic growth.”
- Place Students in Jobs If one measure of success is student job placement, business partnerships begin an essential workforce cycle, creating more opportunities to place students in jobs. As schools align training with business needs and begin to funnel students to jobs, more businesses become interested in the qualified candidates and more students are interested in enrolling in the program if they see that graduates obtain jobs.
“For schools, it’s a win-win. If they teach the right thing, people get hired at a higher percentage, and they get more student.”
- Help with Instructor Training and Curriculum When curriculum is developed with an understanding of the industry and is in line with business needs, community colleges can rely on businesses to help decide what makes a good candidate and a successful employee in the field, instead of shooting in dark. Instructor training can also ensure that the community college’s faculty are providing the most up-to-date training to students.
- Receive Cutting-Edge Equipment Many businesses will provide and upgrade equipment for community college training programs, allowing the college to update equipment at a reasonable rate. By partnering with businesses, community colleges can ensure that their students are being trained on the most up-to-date equipment at a reduced or even at no cost to the school.
Win for the StudentsStudents who participate in partnership programs are able to receive education and training that is in demand, and better understand their career options.
- Gain Skills Aligned with Business Needs Employment is not guaranteed after earning a degree or credential. However, solid training combined with work experience can provide participating students clear connections to businesses’ needs and a better idea of possible career paths they can take.
- Earn Industry-Recognized Credentials Businesses are taking a “strength in numbers” approach, leveraging education partnerships to develop industry-recognized credentials that are stackable and portable across the entire industry. Students who choose programs that result in recognized credentials or certifications are able to quickly demonstrate their skills to many different businesses.
- Spend Less Time and Money People deciding to go back for training are often looking for ways to decrease the financial and time commitment that comes with a traditional 4- or even 2-year degree program. Business-community college partnerships can offer students an alternative, often lasting only a few months while providing the specific skills businesses are looking for.
“The way I saw it, there were two routes: Get a masters or advanced degree, but of course pile on substantial student loan debt, or go back to junior college or the tech trade school route, which was considerably more affordable. I spoke with advisors at the local community college, Joliet Junior College. They couldn’t guarantee I’d find a job, but said the chance was really high.”
- Get Real-World Work Experience Many partnerships offer opportunities for hands-on training, either in simulated or real-world scenarios, giving students an understanding of the field they are hoping to break into and work experience that can be highly valued by potential employers. Some programs also provide students paid internships as a stepping stone from the training program to employment. Paid internships are a valuable piece of the puzzle, providing opportunities for workers to test the field they’re interested in and see if it’s a right fit.
- Gain Pride and a Sense of Accomplishment After returning student Andy Moyer was selected for a Grainger Tools for Tomorrow® scholarship, he mentioned a sense of accomplishment in receiving that distinction from the company. Business-community college partnerships can give workers who may have been unemployed the needed skills to get hired, instilling pride and confidence that only come from a job.
Win for the CommunityWhen partnerships are working well, full communities and regions can enjoy economic growth.
- Grow the Regional Economy Business-community college partnerships can play a role in the future economic growth of the community. A community with strong ‘‘artnership programs is a community with the ability to sustain and grow strong businesses with deep ties to the local workforce.
- Greater Understanding of Local Industries Partnerships can play a key role in informing the community about the training needs and opportunities in local industries. This includes the community learning about significant hiring needs, or getting residents to develop new thinking about what jobs in the skilled trades look like today.
- Ensure Worker Pipeline to Lure New Business Growth The skills and quality of the local workforce is a big consideration for companies as they determine expansions or relocations. Business-community college partnerships demonstrate a ready-made worker pipeline that can act as an incentive that communities can use as they look to create future business growth. Partnerships also offer communities the ability to retain talented workers in the area because the jobs are there, instead of having them leave the region.
“It’s about keeping the best and brightest young people in the community.”