Community Colleges Are Changing the Way We Think About Workforce Development
On Tuesday, I met a group of remarkable community college graduates and business leaders who are on the cutting edge of workforce training. As part of my Community College to Career tour, I visited Coyote Logistics, a third-party logistics company. Coyote Logistics is working with City Colleges of Chicago to make sure City Colleges’ logistics training program prepares students with the skills they need to succeed in jobs in the transportation, distribution and logistics industry. The partnership is part of the City Colleges of Chicago’s College to Career program, which works directly with businesses to design curriculum, provide work-based learning, and offer internships, interviews, and top-notch learning facilities to students.
One graduate named Michelle is currently employed in the health care industry. She told me that her training experience at Harold Washington College was “magical,” and that it gave her not just a job, but a career. I also met Daniel, a veteran whose training in Daley College’s manufacturing program gave him a leg up at work, where he has recently been promoted.
As a community college teacher for more than 18 years, their stories do not surprise me. But students like these always inspire me. I always say my students are my heroes. They work so hard just to be in the classroom, navigating the many competing demands on their time – raising families, working, and earning their degrees. For all these reasons, they make great employees, which is why I am so pleased that businesses across the country are working directly with community colleges to help their students succeed. They are truly changing the way we think about workforce development.
Partnerships like the ones happening in Chicago are exactly what President Obama hopes to grow with his “Community College to Career Fund,” an $8 billion budget proposal to connect community colleges with businesses to train two million workers in high-growth industries with skills that will lead directly to jobs.
It’s clear these partnerships are working – and they are giving students a renewed sense of confidence and hope.