CCDaily chatted with Jennifer Worth, senior vice president for workforce and economic development at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), about what community colleges can expect next year regarding workforce issues from federal government as well as AACC. The annual AACC Workforce Development Institute January 30 to February 2 will feature many of the partners involved in these upcoming initiatives.
Apprenticeships are a lynchpin for the Trump administration’s workforce development strategy, and it has the support of several key members of Congress. It’s even featured prominently in the recently released House bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. WDI will have several sessions on apprenticeships. Can you outline some of the issues these sessions will address?
Jennifer Worth: At WDI 2018, we will hear about apprenticeship from a number of perspectives. We’ll hear about non-traditional sectors — at least in the United States — where apprenticeship is making new inroads, like health care. We’ll also hear about some of the practical considerations in setting up and implementing an apprenticeship program, as well as gain an international perspective from existing models in Europe. These programs can offer valuable lessons in what has worked, and what challenges have been encountered.
Business and industry engagement is obviously key to successful workforce development. WDI always includes many participants from small businesses to international corporations, where community college leaders hear directly from them about the skills required of their employees. Many are trying innovative approaches to that. Could you briefly highlight a few of them that will be included at WDI?
We always have business and industry representatives throughout our program, and this year is no exception, with two plenary sessions devoted to this topic. Attendees can expect to hear about innovative efforts to map the required competencies in the oil and gas sector for new employees, a process that has been highlighted in our work with The Right Signals and can be adapted for any sector. We’ll also hear from employers like Fiat Chrysler, Festo, Black and Decker, Lincoln Electric, and a host of others.
What will be new for attendees at WDI 2018?
While we always ensure that certain elements of WDI remain constant — such as industry, foundation and federal government engagement — we are also interested in ensuring that our content remains fresh, relevant and forward thinking. This year, we have three exciting new preconference sessions.
Preconference Session 1, “Community College Leaders on Workforce Development,” features the authors of the recent book Community College Leaders on Workforce Development: Opinions, Observations, and Future Directions, as well nationally recognized community college leaders, discussing what community college leadership can, and should, look like.
Preconference Session 2, “Programs and Policy in Federal Agencies – What is the Impact of the New Administration?” is led by the AACC government relations team, and includes a panel of senior federal representatives discussing agency priorities and future funding opportunities, and a second panel of national organization officials discussing the impact of the new political and policy environment on community colleges.
Preconference Session 3, “Labor Market Information 2.0: Advanced Techniques for Community College Professionals,” is intended to help community college professionals more easily navigate public LMI resources and build upon existing knowledge and application of LMI for data-driven decision-making. The session will include resource identification and hands on exercises.
Registration for WDI closes Dec. 15.