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Accelerated Programs Train Workers for Skills Needed Now

on Thu, 01/24/2013 - 19:25

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Accelerated Programs Train Workers for Skills Needed Now

BOSTON, MA (January 24, 2013) –The Commonwealth’s 15 community colleges are embarking on the second year of an innovative venture to transform the delivery of education and training programs for low skilled workers, and change how they interact with workforce development system, public agencies, leading industry groups, leaders of government and private businesses.

Managed by the Massachusetts Community Colleges Executive Office and Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, the Massachusetts Community Colleges & Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA) is funded by a $20 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration through the TAACCCT program.

Each community college is offering new or redesigned certificate and degree programs for un- and under-employed adults in a manner that will accelerate their learning and provide a bridge to jobs that are in demand now. The programs are in one or more targeted industries, designed to meet the unique needs of adult students. The targeted industries are: Healthcare; Advanced Manufacturing; Information Technology; Biotechnology & Life Sciences; Clean Energy/Sustainability and Financial Services. These sectors are projected to represent 45% of all jobs statewide by 2019.  To see the complete list of programs by sector and by college, click HERE.

What makes the Transformation Agenda truly unique for Massachusetts is the comprehensive collaboration between colleges, industry and workforce development systems.  Teams comprised of faculty, administrators, industry leaders and officials of the workforce development system are joining forces to:

  • Develop degree and certificate programs and career paths aligned with local industry needs
  • Develop curriculum for Adult Basic Education and Developmental Education, contextualized to healthcare, advanced manufacturing and IT
  • Build bridges from the state’s One-Stop Career Centers to college for un- and under-employed workers.

“Through accelerated programs linked closely to industry need, our community colleges are creating greater economic opportunities for Massachusetts’ residents by providing new ways for low-skilled workers to improve their education and skills”said Jennifer Freeman, Project Manager of the Transformation Agenda. 

For adult learners, there are barriers that often prevent a successful transition to higher education. These can include scheduling conflicts, lack of confidence in succeeding, accessibility, limited knowledge of available short-term programs tied to workforce needs, and entry criteria.  Through the Transformation Agenda, each college has hired College and Career Navigators, ensuring that displaced workers are thoroughly advised on college programs and services at all critical stages and providing a seamless connection between the colleges and their local Career Centers.

The College and Career Navigators are a critical link to the career success of lower skilled adults in Massachusetts, leading to improved retention and achievement rates among those students with the greatest need.

Currently, many low-skilled adult students require developmental coursework before they can begin a college level curriculum. Improving the success of these students is pivotal to them completing college and receiving a degree or certification that will lead to employment.  With the help of workforce partners, college and adult basic education faculty and staff statewide have developed contextualized curriculum modules that have been flexibly integrated into a range of developmental, adult basic education and industry-specific programs. Through contextualization, abstract concepts become more concrete, helping students to grasp material more quickly and to see how academic skills relate to their future employment goals, which improves motivation. 

About The Transformation Agenda

The Massachusetts Community Colleges and Workforce Development Transformation Agenda (MCCWDTA) brings together Massachusetts' 15 community colleges, the Commonwealth’s adult basic education and workforce development systems, and industry stakeholders to transform education and training programs. The state-wide initiative, supported by a $20 million, three-year grant from the United States Department of Labor, is designed to build greater economic opportunities for residents of the Commonwealth by helping them attain degrees, certificates and industry recognized credentials through accelerated programs linked closely to industry need.

Jeff Landis