IN THIS ISSUE
- HIGHER EDUCATION
- CAREER ADVANCEMENT
Despite the slow growth of our nation’s economy, employment opportunities are increasing in many “clean economy” sectors. It’s important to help underserved students gain the skills to qualify for these jobs—for the sake of their families and their communities. So we’re helping them access college-level tools and instruction that are truly out of this world.
JFF, the National Wildlife Federation, and the National Council for Science and the Environment have teamed up with NASA to create a new curriculum that will prepare students for employment or graduate study in technical fields related to climate change. The curriculum incorporates the latest technology and research from NASA, a world leader in climate change science.
The curriculum will include for-credit courses as well as basic skills programs for students not yet ready to succeed in college credit-level studies. As NASA scientist Dr. Lin Chambers says, this project will cultivate greater diversity among those trained for green jobs by engaging students from populations currently underrepresented and underserved in college.
Edgecombe Community College in North Carolina, the Wayne County Community College District in Detroit, and Wilbur Wright Community College in Chicago are piloting the new curriculum. Offering at least nine courses each, they plan to engage up to 180 students over the next two years.
This joint effort is part of Building a Diverse, Green Workforce. It also builds on The Greenforce Initiative, a JFF-NWF partnership to improve green career pathways for underrepresented students and connect campus sustainability to opportunities for hands-on training.
Combining NASA technology with classroom study is yet another way innovative community colleges can prepare students of all levels and backgrounds for family-sustaining careers. We’re excited to be a part of this project and look forward to sharing results and resources with you as it continues.
—Marlene B. Seltzer, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future
JFF is the national assistance partner for state policy in Completion by Design, a five-year Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative that works with community colleges to significantly increase completion and graduation rates for low-income students under 26. The foundation has awarded grants to groups of community colleges in four states—Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas—to help them transform their students’ experience. The goal is to substantially increase completion rates for these students, while holding down costs and maintaining access and quality.
JFF helps the Completion by Design states develop and implement completion-focused policy agendas. We also work with them as they create a state-level continuous improvement network informed by data on student outcomes. Plus, we engage state policymakers and agency officials, Completion by Design college leaders, representatives from other community colleges in these states, and key stakeholders whose support is critical to policy change.
On November 29 and 30, representatives of the 10 colleges in the Credentials that Work Real-Time Innovators Network convened at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. Project leaders shared their experiences in gleaning real-time labor market information from online job postings using new software developed by Burning Glass. They started using this software when the initiative launched in September.
The goal is to assess the most promising applications of real-time technologies—existing and planned—and determine what uses may better align postsecondary education offerings with the needs of employers. The effort is also identifying how these applications can augment traditional sources of labor market information and how state policy can encourage the wider use of these technologies. JFF’s recent report, Aligning Community Colleges to Their Local Labor Markets, discusses how sophisticated new technologies can provide a more comprehensive, real-time source of information than ever before about the hiring and skill needs of local employers.
Indiana has joined the growing national movement to restructure Adult Basic Education by aligning it with postsecondary and workforce systems in ways that promote stronger student transitions to jobs and further education. Soon, Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development will administer the ABE system, while regional partnerships will deliver ABE services. Students will be able to earn short-term certificates with value in the labor market, and these will be aligned with Indiana’s list of high-demand, high-wage jobs. Students who earn certificates will immediately gain access to job-placement assistance via the Department of Workforce Development.
Until now, Indiana has housed ABE in the K-12 Department of Education, making its coordination with workforce skills training and postsecondary study a challenge. Furthermore, multiple ABE providers have operated in silos, creating a confusing set of entry points for adult students and discouraging the transition of ABE students into workforce training or postsecondary systems.
The latest issue of Achieving Success, the state policy newsletter of Achieving the Dream, provides details about the efforts of Indiana and other states to use public policy as a level for improving college and career pathways.
JFF and the National Fund for Workforce Solutions have launched a project to encourage
hospitals to invest in the skill development and career advancement of their low-wage,
frontline workers. CareerSTAT is documenting the business case for these investments and establishing an employer-led advocacy council to promote the best ones.
In 2012, CareerSTAT will release a guide to advancing workers’ skills and careers. It will
detail how leading hospitals are investing in successful programs, how to make the case for adopting them, what metrics to track, and more.