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|Thursday, March 27, 2014|
BY MARY SPILDE | OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR
Changes in the economy and in higher education create a unique opportunity for strengthening the partnership between employers and community colleges. Employers need more workers to fill jobs in high demand fields such as manufacturing, health care, information technology and skilled trades. For example the Manufacturing Institute recently found that 5 percent of the manufacturing positions available nationwide are unfilled due to lack of qualified candidates. These are middle-skills jobs that require more than a high school diploma but less than a bachelor’s degree which pay a family wage. At the same time, Oregon’s aspirational vision of 40-40-20 — 40% of Oregonians with a bachelor’s degree, 40% with an associate degree, certificate or credential, 20% with only a high school diploma — brings renewed focus to that middle 40.
The comprehensive mission of community colleges gives us a role in each component of Oregon’s vision. Many of our students transfer to universities. In fact, 62% of Oregonians with a bachelors degree have attended a community college; colleges have robust partnerships with high schools to provide college classes in schools and seamless pathways to college; but it is our career, technical and workforce programs serving the middle 40 that present an opportunity to bring business and education together as never before.
Oregon’s seventeen community colleges typically reflect the communities they serve. Whether it’s a two-year degree, certificate or industry credential, community colleges prepare the majority of workers for local economies. However, changes in the structure of the labor market require us to continuously evolve. To ensure vibrant, relevant programs, we must constantly work with employers to assess the labor market, conduct robust program reviews, and innovate accordingly. We must validate and align curricula with sector employment need. We must improve opportunities for apprenticeships and internships in order to provide early workplace experiences. This ability to change to meet emerging needs is one of our strengths; much of this work is already going on at our community colleges but we will need to enhance existing partnerships with employers to take it to an unprecedented scale.
Aside from providing high quality technical training that meets real labor market needs, we should rethink how we organize the curriculum. In this era of focusing on student success and explicit learning outcomes, we must ensure that every course, every module and every credential connects and actually leads to something meaningful. Whether it is a laddered or layered curriculum, or stackable certificates that lead to a degree, we must be more intentional in overall program design so that students who stop in and stop out, depending on their situation, are on a pathway to success.
We must do more than assure high quality technical training. The data are clear—the more learning, the higher the earnings. We must be vigilant that we do not relegate our students to the lowest paying jobs most impacted by economic uncertainty. We need to educate our students not just for a job but to weather a turbulent economy and be ready for continuing shifts. It is critical that we look beyond narrow job training and integrate broader knowledge that helps students navigate the unscripted challenges that they will face in the market place.
The comprehensive mission of community colleges requires us to prepare students for work, citizenship and life. Our two-year degree programs already include general education but if innovation is to be the hallmark of our economic recovery we must expose students to a curriculum that blends liberal and applied learning. Our students need the skills to cope with change and complexity if they are to forge a path through economic dislocation, or avoid it altogether. This is especially true for under-represented students. They should be encouraged to explore the richness of the arts and sciences in addition to participating in technical programs.
A recent study by Hart Research Associates found that employers want colleges to place more emphasis on helping students develop five key learning outcomes including: critical thinking, complex problem-solving, written and oral communication and applying knowledge in real-world settings. They found that employers agreed that having both field-specific knowledge and a broad range of skills is most important for graduates to achieve long term career success. These skills are often developed in the humanities, arts and sciences so it is essential that students, our current and future workers, are exposed to a broad range of learning opportunities that prepare them for the expectations and challenges that exist in the contemporary work environment.
There is much at stake. Education and workforce must be inextricably linked to create the economy that is essential to the well-being of Oregon. Community colleges are committed to focusing on the “middle 40” and we look forward to expanding our connection with employers and our partners to ensure that our curriculum prepares students for the responsibilities they face as citizens. That’s how we create healthy, empowered workers, businesses, families and communities.
Mary Spilde is president of Lane Community College. Spilde is one of three university administrators contributing quarterly perspectives on higher education for OregonBusiness.com. The two other contributors are Wim Wiewel, president of Portland State University, and Debra Ringold, Dean of the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY HANNAH WALLACE
Travelers have always come to Oregon for its natural beauty. But will the increasing popularity of agritourism, European-style hiking getaways and forest resorts relax Oregon's notoriously strict land-use laws?
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY KIM MOORE
As momentum grows at the state level to introduce far-reaching environmental regulations, such as carbon pricing and the Clean Fuels Program, Oregon employers continue to go the extra mile to create green workplaces for their employees.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Oregon’s new marijuana law is expected to lead to a bevy of new business opportunities for the state. And not just for growers. Law firms, HR consultants, energy efficiency companies and many others are expected to benefit from the decriminalization of pot, according to panelists at an Oregon Business breakfast meeting on Tuesday.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
As part of our green workplaces story, Oregon Business checked out a community service project undertaken by Portland Youth Builders, a nonprofit alternative high school. In partnership with Whole Foods, PYB built garden boxes for a Home Forward housing site. Home Forward is a government agency that provides housing for low income residents and people with disabilities.
Friday, May 15, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | RESEARCH EDITOR
The Portland Bureau of Transportation is seeking input from businesses on a $5.5 million initiative to create a network of biking, transit and pedestrian trails within Portland’s central city.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
BY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
There are more than 160 farmers markets in Oregon, contributing an estimated $50 million in sales, according to the Oregon Farmers Markets Association. We checked in on the Forest Grove market, which for several years has brought local produce and food vendors to Main Street in the center of town.
Friday, May 22, 2015
BY EMILY LIEDEL
Inside the topsy-turvy world of corporate sustainability rankings.
|100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon|
|The Green Paradox|
|Up in the Air|
|Credit Unions Perspective|
|Queen of Resilience|
Tonkon Torp helps seed sustainability at Gunderson.
Oregon-based Environments helps companies create inspired workspaces. “Simply put, we help companies future-proof their workspaces,” says Chris Corrado, president. Since 1988,Environments has witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of business. Native Portlander and Environments founder Corrado says, “We help our clients navigate the complex realities of the workplace today and plan for their future in a very mindful, strategic way. We think of ourselves as their partners in the process.”
One hundred years ago, the Willamette River might easily have been mistaken for a sewer. Unchecked industrial activity and decades of pollution made it unrecognizable compared to the clean river that now flows north for 187 miles from Eugene through the center of Portland.
3 Degrees Event Celebrates 5th Year Bringing Nonprofit and Business Professionals Together to Benefit Portland.
Bend energy leader brings passion for efficiency and renewable energy to the nonprofit.
Event in Forest Grove marks recognition of Global Food Safety Initiative Certification.