Several successful projects in a federal program to help community colleges quickly prepare adults for work in growing industry sectors now serve as state models, according to a recent report.
A brief for the U.S. Labor Department highlights examples of career pathway models funded by the now-expired Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program that focused on accelerated training for unemployed or underemployed workers so they can find jobs quickly. Based on their successes, several of those projects have since prompted redesigns among workforce education efforts in several states.
In Colorado, for example, an online energy training consortium — led by the Community College of Denver — focused on changing developmental education for adults by streamlining the process but also ensuring that they attain the skills required for available jobs. As part of the revamp, students were enrolled in co-requisite courses, taking college-level math or English along with support courses, the report said. Under new math requirements, students were advised to take algebra, statistics or career-related math courses.
As a result, the state saw an increase in the number of students who successfully completed college-level coursework and also saw an increase in the percentage of students who were able to enroll in college-level courses after one term or less (see graph, above), the report said. The redesigned developmental education eventually led to a statewide mandate calling for all colleges to redesign developmental education.
In Mississippi, a TAACCCT-funded project to retrain Gulf Coast adults for jobs in information technology that included five community colleges is now being expanded to all 15 community colleges in the state, according to the report. The project — which was modeled after the popular Integrated Basic Education Skills and Training (I-BEST) program — serves as the foundation for Mississippi’s MI-BEST, which expands beyond IT to include other disciplines, such as welding and the culinary arts.
In New Mexico, the success of a TAACCCT-funded project to bring job development and career coaches to community colleges caught the eye of state officials. The SUN PATH consortium, which centered on the technology and healthcare sectors, partnered with the state workforce department to hire, train and supervise job development career coaches for each college in the consortium.
The coaches led workshops on resume development, provided professionalism training, held mock interviews and more. They also organized job fairs, helped with job placement and connected with employer partners.
The number of partnering employers in the project has grown from 30 when it started to more than 240, according to the report. In addition, the project helped to increase the estimated future earnings for the 1,609 certificate holders employed in New Mexico’s healthcare sector. As a result, the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions agreed to re-align resources to retain most of the coaches at the campuses after the federal grant expired.