Making career connections easier

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

Community colleges commit to tackling workforce challenges in their states.

Gov. Chris Christie announced Tuesday an expansion of the state’s Career Connections network, which will have the state’s community colleges working to increase job training that leads to in-demand jobs. The announcement was made at Raritan Valley Community College.

The goal is to “empower at least 65 percent of adults with college degrees or credentials by 2025,” according to a release from the governor’s office.

“This initiative will prepare more people for the careers being generated in the key industries driving New Jersey’s impressive economic growth,” Christie said. “It will provide residents with expanded access to employer-valued credentials and degrees, fruitful training networks and high-quality career assistance, creating new economic opportunities and improving people’s quality of life.”

As part of the expanded program, the community colleges will work to increase access to unified, high-quality career guidance, planning resources and job search assistance for New Jerseyans. The colleges will partner with employers to ensure that training programs are aligned with industry demand.

Staff at the colleges will receive training to provide the job search assistance services.

The Career Connections program, run by the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development, was created to help residents of all backgrounds, education levels and work experiences explore career pathways. New Jersey’s 29 One-Stop Career Centers, libraries, community and faith-based organizations, and some community colleges throughout the state currently provide these services. By expanding to all 19 community colleges, the job-finding services are more accessible.

Breaking down geographic barriers

Earlier this month, Missouri community colleges announced the launch of the Missouri Community College Workforce Development Network. It gives businesses access through their local community college to resources at every college in the state.

In Illinois, the 39 community college districts across the state will participate in the Comprehensive Agreement Regarding the Expansion of Educational Resources (CAREER Agreement).  This agreement, announced Wednesday, allows community colleges to share the career and technical education (CTE) programs of each institution.

This means that students may take advantage of CTE programs offered at any Illinois community college if the program is not offered in their home district. The students pay the resident tuition and fee rates, despite living outside the community college district. The agreement also eliminates charges assessed to the student’s in-district community college when a student enrolls pursuant to this agreement at a community college outside his or her district.

“The CAREER Agreement capitalizes on the finances, facilities, equipment, and personnel of each college to expand student access to degree and certificate programs in high demand career and technical education fields,” said Dr. Karen Hunter Anderson, executive director of the Illinois Community College Board.  “The fact that all 39 districts have signed on to participate in this voluntary agreement reflects the system’s commitment to providing affordable, accessible educational opportunities for students.”

How does your college work with employers to expand career opportunities? Sound off on LinkedIn.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.