WASHINGTON – Any community college administrator worth his or her salt will tell you how they are addressing the so-called “skills gap” by dispensing with the fluff courses and getting down to brass tacks.
California’s community college system has been at the forefront of the renewed emphasis on skills training through its “stackable credentials” approach that focuses on courses that meet the immediate needs of potential employers.
New York Times columnist Joe Nocera highlights a similar effort called “Year Up” that focuses on matching up poor high school graduates with “middle-skill jobs.” Many of these entry-level jobs start at as much as $40,000 a year, Nocera reports.
These and other efforts across the country illustrate how community colleges have been bending over backwards to address the needs of American corporations. Now it’s time for companies, especially tech companies sitting on piles of cash, to put their money where their mouth has been. The first graduates of these community colleges programs are hitting the job market now.
The fact is that the “skills gap” is fast becoming little more than excuse not to hire new workers. If in fact still exists, U.S. companies must meet the community college system halfway by specifying the skill sets they are looking for.
In California, Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for workforce development, told a recent conference that the California community college system is being geared toward delivering the skills companies need. In emerging markets like energy, course credentials include pre- and post-sales certificates for newly minted technical engineers and installers.
The nation’s indispensable community colleges are doing their part to address the skills gap. When will Corporate America begin hiring?
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