Why Collaboration is Essential for a Skilled Workforce

More than ever before, employers are looking for a skilled workforce. However, these same organizations are running into road bumps trying to find the right talent for open positions.  It’s not that people aren’t looking for jobs; in fact, the opposite is true.  People are searching for jobs and finding a mismatch of their skills with what the employer is seeking.  So you might ask, “What can we do to address this issue?” One possible solution — encouraging job seekers to enroll in school.

According to a 2010 study conducted by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of jobs will require education or training beyond high school. Most of these jobs will require a bachelor’s degree; however, many will require a certificate or associates degree.

Goodwill organizations and educational institutions, such as local community colleges, have collaborated for years to provide skills training opportunities for the communities they serve.  Partnerships like the one created by Goodwill Industries of Kansas (Wichita) and Wichita Area Technical College (WATC) have prepared students for careers in advanced manufacturing studying aerospace manufacturing, avionics, composite, and aerospace coatings and paint technologies.  These higher levels of manufacturing technology require job seekers to undergo more intensive training.  The manufacturing industry alone adds more than $2 trillion to the economy annually. Additionally, as baby boomers begin to retire, it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill the vacancies left in this industry.

The Wichita Goodwill partnership is a part of Goodwill Industries International’s Community College/Career Collaboration(C4 initiative) in which 77 member Goodwill organizations, 144 community colleges and a number of business partners participate. GII and the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) partnered from 2009-2014 to document and support the replication of ten models that foster local partnerships to expand skills attainment and lead to meaningful employment and credentials for lower-skilled and nontraditional students. With support from The Lumina Foundation, GII and AACC have strengthened communities by delivering educational programs that help individuals earn highly valued and marketable credentials and degrees. These partnerships have employed a variety of innovative approaches to learning, including prior learning assessments (PLAs), stackable credentials, and dual approaches for attaining GEDs and job skills simultaneously. Since 2010, more than 26,000 individuals enrolled in credentialing programs with more than 14,000 earning credentials so far.

Today is a great day to assist someone with enrolling into school, which will position them to earn a credential and obtain a well-paying position and eventually minimize the skills gap faced by our nation. For more information on community college and career collaboration, take a look at the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative page.