At this year’s Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, leaders from the public, private and NGO sectors gathered to talk about the most important issues of our time and how they are seeking to address them. It was no surprise that the key issue at the top of their agenda was the very issue we seek to address day in and day out at the 21st Century Center: how to give our students the skills and opportunities they need to succeed and get 21st-century jobs. The panel, introduced by Hillary Clinton and moderated by Chelsea Clinton, featured former AACC board member, President Eduardo Padrón of Miami Dade College.
Here are our favorite quotes from President Padrón as he spoke to an audience of world leaders and change makers about student success.
Today, 6 million Americans are both out of school and out of a job. One of our seven recommendations at the 21st Century Center speaks exactly to this issue: how to close the American skills gap. AACC recognizes, as Dr. Padrón does, that the key to addressing the nationwide challenge of unemployment is to tailor career and technical education directly to students, ensuring that their educational pathway prepares them with the knowledge and skills they need for existing and future jobs.
At first glance, this might not sound like a good thing. But for the AACC student success mission, and for all our students out of school and out of work, this is great news. The problem we face is not one of unavailable jobs, but rather of connecting our trained students with the jobs that are already out there waiting for them when they graduate. That is why at the top of our recommendations for student success, we suggest that community colleges partner with local, regional and national employers to make sure that students’ curriculum match up with existing job requirements. Additionally, we must provide them with internship opportunities and other employer connections that can lead directly to filling available jobs at these companies.
It is exciting to see that at today’s major gatherings of thought leaders and change makers, the issue that has been at the center of AACC’s agenda the last 94 years — education for student success — is finally at the top of a global agenda. In the words of Dr. Eduardo Padrón, “That is why community colleges are so vital: They are the dream factories, where people with no means may come and that allow them to succeed in life.”