Ten Outstanding Southern Community Colleges for Workforce Training
Workforce training has once again come to the forefront in the practice of economic development. Advanced manufacturers in need of skilled workers need not worry if they are recruiting graduates from any of these outstanding community colleges. . .
Mid-South Community College
West Memphis, Arkansas
Mid-South Community College (MSCC) and four additional community colleges in the Arkansas Delta are meeting the workforce training challenges of 2013 and beyond with an innovative and industry-driven approach to education and training. The Arkansas Delta Training & Education Consortium (ADTEC), a regional partnership of five community colleges that jointly support regional workforce and economic development, has created a nationally-recognized, award-winning workforce development model that includes "workforce education pathways" that offer employable "stop-out points" along a comprehensive training continuum. "The continued success of our statewide and regional economic development efforts is directly tied to our ability to train and educate workers," said Dr. Glen Fenter, MSCC president. The ADTEC workforce development model has earned recognition and/or awards from the Southern Growth Policies Board, U.S. Department of Labor, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Community College Futures Assembly, and the Education Commission of the States. Each ADTEC college has a technical secondary center that provides high school students the opportunity to earn dual credit toward graduation at both institutions. ADTEC has invested millions of dollars in facilities, equipment, and industry-driven curriculum to provide world-class opportunities in allied health, computer networking and repair, diesel technology, machining, welding, advanced manufacturing, aviation maintenance technology and professional helicopter pilot training.
Wallace State Community College
Wallace State's Training for Existing Business and Industry department provides business consulting services, customized employee training, industry certifications, and employee skills assessments with the goal of delivering the training needed to make economic engines more efficient, productive and competitive. For specialized technical assistance and training outside the Wallace State campus, Wallace State's ATN center in Cullman, Ala., can leverage a network of resources around the state and, through participation in the National Institute of Standards and Technology's Manufacturing Extension Partnership, across the nation. Wallace State's own business incubator program recently launched Zero RPM, heralded by Governor Robert Bentley as one of the most innovative new industries in the state. As a founding member of Cullman Area Workforce Solutions (CAWS), Wallace State positions itself as a partner in the conversations about current and future workforce needs, and as a solution for the demand for a highly skilled workforce. The college's 17 technical programs are nationally accredited, and provide training using the latest technology, industry-recognized credentialing, and a direct pathway to employment.
Enterprise State Community College
The announcement in 2012 that Airbus will establish a production facility in Mobile to build large commercial aircraft raised eyebrows in the aviation community throughout the world. But to the Alabama Aviation Center (AAC) it was a signal to move their program into high gear. Airbus's demand for trained airframe and engine mechanics only added fuel to the fire of a growing aircraft maintenance, overhaul and repair (MRO) industry in the state, says Tucson Roberts, AAC's Dean of Aviation and Workforce. "This changes everything. It was an enormous announcement, doing for Alabama's aviation industry what the Mercedes announcement back in 1993 did for the automobile industry. Now Alabama has it all, including large aircraft assembly, MRO, research, development, engineering and design. We are one of the select areas of the world to support such a complete industry," he said. Headquartered in Ozark but administered through Enterprise State Community College, AAC's enrollment has seen a 500 percent increase over the past 10 years, according to Roberts. With demand for graduates increasing, the school added a dual enrollment program in 2005 that allows high school students drawn to aviation to accelerate their education, entering the program as early as their sophomore year, with virtually no tuition cost. All told, AAC graduates over 400 students per year. "We have graduates working all over the world," Roberts said. "As we like to say, 'If it flies, we fix it.' "
Augusta Technical College
Augusta Technical College has a legacy of over 50 years as a successful public, comprehensive, two-year institution supporting workforce development. With locations in Augusta, Thomson, Waynesboro and Grovetown, the college is accessible and affordable. In 2011, The Aspen Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, named the college as one of the nation's 120 best community colleges due to its graduation and retention rates of part-time and full-time students. The college's Nuclear Engineering Technology program is an example of its commitment to local industry. This innovative program addresses the nuclear industry's increasing need for a well-trained workforce. The college's commitment to excellence extends to its students and their employers. It offers a guarantee for its graduates and will provide retraining at no instructional cost should a graduate be deficient in a competency as prescribed in program standards.
Victoria College works closely with area businesses and industry to ensure it meets the region's current and future workforce training needs. "It is our responsibility to develop and implement education and training programs that provide the support needed to keep local industries and their employees competitive," said Dr. Tom Butler, Victoria College President. Victoria College has collaborated with numerous business and industry partners on Skills Development Fund (SDF) projects. In fact, the Texas Workforce Commission recently recognized Victoria College with a Partnership Award for providing innovative training solutions and for serving as an example for success in the management of SDF projects. "In a time when other parts of the country are experiencing a shortage of skilled workers, the Victoria Economic Development Corporation (VEDC) is pleased to have Victoria College as a valuable partner that continues to develop skilled workers in Victoria and the greater region to meet the needs of new and existing industry," said Dale Fowler, VEDC President.
Metropolitan Community College
Kansas City, Missouri
For over 25 years, Metropolitan Community College (MCC) has served Kansas City's workforce needs, providing contract training and consulting services for businesses and job training for individuals. In 2009, MCC combined its workforce development efforts with economic, resource and community development into a single unit to create the MCC Institute for Workforce Innovation (IWI). This single unit better serves the needs of the region, partnering with employers and other external organizations to ensure a continuous stream of qualified workers. In 2012, IWI trained over 7,400 individuals across a variety of industry sectors, providing short-term career training, job placement assistance and other support services. MCC also has the distinction of working with the Missouri Department of Economic Development to provide businesses with access to state funding programs.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Broward College was recently named one of the 10 best community colleges in the nation by the Aspen Institute, an educational studies organization based in Washington, D.C. Each year, the Aspen Institute recognizes 120 two-year colleges from about 1,000 eligible schools for excellence in education and then selects 10 finalists based on degree completion, success in job placement, student learning and equity of opportunity for underserved students. Broward offers hundreds of workforce training programs and more than 100,000 students have graduated from Broward College since it began in the 1960s.
Sante Fe College
Sante Fe College also placed in the Aspen Institute's top 10 community colleges ranking this year. Sante Fe ranks first among public colleges in graduation rate and in the top 10 nationally in the number of associate degrees awarded in liberal arts. Leading programs at Sante Fe include health sciences, biotechnology, digital media and business administration. In 2011, nearly 2,000 people were enrolled at Sante Fe's corporate training and workforce development programs. The college also offers a wide range of incubator services to entrepreneurs and start-up companies.
Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College
Another top 10 finalist in the Aspen Institute's top 10, Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College is located in one of the most rural regions of the state. Half the faculty was raised in the mountainous, isolated region, and they celebrate the local culture, teaching students self-confidence and to hold high standards for their education. More than 75 percent of the student body at Southeast Kentucky are from low-income families. "Students who come from southeast Kentucky have been told all their lives that they aren't as good as students elsewhere in the country," said W. Bruce Ayers, president of SKCTC. "We have tried to establish an affirming culture that says 'Yes, you can.' " The school offers customized business and industry training and has seen significantly higher completion rates over the past five years.
Gateway Community and Technical College
Gateway Community and Technical College (GCTC) is one of the fastest growing community colleges in the nation. GCTC helps businesses in northern Kentucky maintain their competitive edge by providing customized workforce training on-site or at one of three campuses in Boone County, Covington and Edgewood, Ky. With a specialty in lean manufacturing, the Workforce Solutions division of GCTC is the trainer of choice for local manufacturers. The WS division also prepares economic development grants for local companies to help defer training costs.