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higher education institutions and workforce provision

It is often perceived the colleges and universities are regularly driver’s providers of workforce to add to the overall economy. However, given recent budget cuts many universities across the country have experienced massive shortages in funding one must wonder how prepared are individuals going to be when graduating given the limited economic resources universities possess. This article will attempt to describe the role colleges and universities play in workforce provision and the different strategies used to cope with a crippling budget.

Community colleges specifically are often associated with workforce development in small communities across the nation. Another aspect that makes said programs unique is the direct involvement by local employers in college programs in terms of internships and volunteering.

A variety of said programs have their beginning with a needs assessment, local business leaders work directly with community college officials, and often university officials, to design curricula that will aid develop skills required to succeed in their specific industries. Consequently, preparing and intended workforce for a specific industry via an academic institution. The involvement does not stop there.

Coming from the nexus of academia, industry, and local government. This privileged position enables community colleges to play a significant role not only in college preparedness, but also in economic development by training a workforce to meet the needs of local industry. The flexibility and financial accessibility has rendered this strategy as a viable alternative to traditional higher level educational dogmas.

As funding for public universities have had many of their resources cut across the united states one could gather the difficult position many of academic programs of this nature are faced with. The external economic conditions combined with internal pressures to make ends meet has forced university workforce development initiatives into unprecedented predicaments.

Along with many other factors such as; perniciously high dropout rates, limited advisory services, and budget cuts places community colleges in an extremely challenging position, hence being tasked with doing more with less. Resiliency is another key aspect of workforce development deriving from academia.

These programs provide students with a broad-based academic experience as well as meaningful credentials in each industry while allowing employers to “road test” potential employees before making a hiring decision. Thus, such partnerships programs help employers filter a certain workforce that is most relevant to their needs. Consequently, benefiting their overall finances.

Regardless of any specific arrangements made by academic institutions and local businesses, the key driver of programs such as this one is that these offerings provide students with hands on, practical experience in a way that prepares them for the rigors of the daily workforce. It helps students, who find themselves often clueless post-graduation, to find a sense of direction in terms of employment searching.

This employer-centric approach to curriculum development is not without its critics. Although critics may argue that partnerships such as the aforementioned, often narrow down a student’s career path it does offer a sense of guidance which otherwise may not be provided, specifically when it comes to public universities and colleges.

At some of the nation’s community colleges, faculty control over curriculum design is threatened by corporations that dictate course material for degree-granting programs. Germinating the fear that a designed pathway to higher education rooted in the liberal arts, may become “captured” by local industry. The industry holding the university in a position of subservience, catering to the needs of local industries rather than the needs of students and that of the local academic institution.

The point is part of a broader narrative around compromised academic freedom at many community colleges, where more than two-thirds of faculty members are part-time employees. Therefore, community colleges often lack high levels of campus involvement as a result.

Community college leaders and students have found themselves in quite a predicament when considering a plethora of exterior factors. Global economic changes, increasing budget constraints, and greater demand for higher education have all placed greater stress on these institutions. Furthermore, many are struggling to devise new strategies to confront the changing context in which they operate.

However, the biggest opportunity may come from a potential threat: increased attention by the federal government may lead to much needed resources but, more importantly, attention that many schools will need to adopt meaningful change.

Programs like those mentioned above leverage employers for both curriculum and resources; in fact, it seems that the biggest win for all parties involved may be the signing can’t buy in that these programs generate from the private sector.

Despite the debate around the involvement of private sector actors in the delivery of state-funded education, many private enterprises are realizing tangible benefits that such programs generate making a positive impact on their lives.

Practical Recommendations

The Queens Entrepreneurship Fund could find much use in strategies such as this one. As it seeks to engage local community owned business with students it of the utmost importance the fellowship is well aware of the current economic climate that local businesses are experiencing so that a proper analysis can be made.

An economic climate analysis is important to the fellowship because it allows one to understand what exactly is lacking in terms of workforce development and in terms of potential service offerings. Through this analysis, the fellowship is given the opportunity to shape its students to fit the specific needs of local businesses’ just right so there is no lack of provided services nor a surplus of them.

Given the fact the queens college is a public university and in the CUNY system it is a known fact that it is subject to budget cuts from the state government. One could contend that strategies such as the ones mentioned in this article help gain the attention of state officials if they become successful and efficient in fostering economic growth within a locality. Arguably, if deemed successful the program could gain more state funding for Queens College and eventually the CUNY system as a whole.

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