Workforce training is a key component of the mission of the California Community Colleges, which is “to advance California’s economic growth and global competitiveness through education, and services that contribute to continuous workforce improvement.” To help realize that mission, many colleges have created workforce training units that provide customized employee training services to local businesses that seek to enhance the skills and productivity of their workers.
To gain additional insights into the role of a workforce training unit and the types of organizations it serves, I spoke with Sandra Sisco, director, economic and workforce development, for Chaffey College’s InTech Center. I thank Sandra for her assistance with the development of this blog post. – Jon Wollenhaupt, president, Go Launch Marketing.
How does a college’s workforce training unit help a California Community College fulfill its mission regarding economic and workforce development?
Sisco: All California Community Colleges share an explicit economic and workforce development mission, which is to impact the state’s economic growth and competitiveness through industry-specific education and training that helps create a highly skilled workforce. The community colleges fulfill that mission by graduating students with the academic education and skills that meet the workforce needs of business. In addition to academic degrees, the colleges help meet businesses’ needs by providing intensive, short-term customized training for their workforce. This training helps increase productivity and close the skills gap within the organization. The California Community Colleges play a key role in not only helping companies develop a skilled workforce but also, through contract education, help keep employees’ skills current with the latest industry, technical, and business practices. This is the reason why so many companies and government agencies across the state partner with their community colleges’ contract education department for customized training programs
How do the California Community Colleges respond to the ever-changing training needs of business?
Sisco: California businesses typically require a rapid response to their employee training needs. In most cases, it is not practical to delay training until a credit-based program can be developed and approved. By tapping into the vast resources composed of workplace-specific curriculum and subject area experts, workforce training staff at the community colleges can quickly deliver a customized training program that meets an organization’s immediate training needs. By being agile and responsive, workforce training plays an important role in understanding the training needs of local business and developing long-term relationships with business and industry.
Do the programs offered by your workforce training unit provide learners with industry-recognized certifications?
Sisco: Yes. Workforce training staff are constantly aligning curriculum and other training resources so they can deliver programs to business that will prepare workers to attain industry-recognized certificates.
What is the full range of services provided by the colleges’ workforce training units?
Sisco: Along with instructional programs, workforce training also provides services designed to improve organizational efficiencies and employee performance including:
- Training needs assessments
- Development of training materials
- Performance needs analysis
- Job profiling
- Consulting services
- Analysis of training programs’ impact on business measurements
What types of businesses are working community colleges to upskill their employees ?
Sisco. The California Community Colleges represent a unique and valuable resource for employers of all sizes that seek customized training programs for their workforce. Our most recent data show a breakdown of businesses by size as follows: 45% were small businesses (defined by the state as 100 employees or less), 34% were midsize, and 11% were large businesses. The largest sector served by the community colleges is the public sector, consisting of federal, state, and local government. This sector accounts for more than 28% of all trainees served by the community college system.
JW: Which industries do the community colleges serve?
Sisco: The community colleges have identified the following priority industry sectors:
- Advanced Manufacturing
- Advanced Transportation and Renewables
- Agriculture/Water/Environmental Technology
- Energy (Efficiency) and Utilities
- Global Trade and Logistics
- Government (Federal, State, County, Local)
- Information Communications Technology and Digital Media
- Life Science and Biotechnology
- Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism
- Small Business
A sample of organizations that have partnered with the California Community Colleges to develop workplace education and training programs include:
- Alcoa Fastening Systems
- Boeing Company
- California Steel Industries
- Honda Performance
- Impresa Aerospace
- Northrop Grumman
CONSUMER GOODS/FOOD/FOOD PROCESSORS
- Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
- The Hain Celestial Group
- Kraft Foods
- Pepsico/Frito Lay
- Svenhard’s Swedish Bakery
- Wonderful Orchards
FEDERAL & STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES
- California Department of Agriculture
- Department of Transportation
- Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
- U.S. Department of Education
- Dignity Healthcare
- Kaiser Permanente
- O’Connor Hospital
- Providence Del Rosa Villa