Beyond 1-1 Advising: An Institution-Wide Approach to Preparing Students for the Global Workforce

Beyond 1-1 Advising: An Institution-Wide Approach to Preparing Students for the Global Workforce

Dawna Wilson (University of North Texas, USA) and Kimberly M. Lowry (Eastfield College, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8481-2.ch008
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This chapter presents practices Eastfield College employs to move beyond a traditional one-on-one advising model when preparing students for the twenty-first century workforce. No matter the students' status, first-time in college, returning to retool or dual high school-college enrollee, community colleges must rethink approaches to supporting them throughout the workforce development process if we are to adequately meet this century's workforce demands. In an institution-wide, customer-service approach, student needs not only drive the design but the delivery of support services. This chapter describes how Eastfield takes services to students by hosting Lunch and Learns, providing onsite advising, and establishing liaisons with local business partners. Collaborations with area high school districts to facilitate career and technical related career offerings are also discussed.
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A college degree has now become a necessity for a successful career and a path towards knowledgeable citizenship (Ramaley, Leskes, & Associates, 2002). For those choosing not to pursue a degree, securing gainful employment with high wage and advancement potential still requires a postsecondary credential. According to the Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce, by 2018, nearly half of all new jobs will only require some college or an associate’s degree and 63% of all jobs will require some type of postsecondary training (Carnevale, Strohl, & Smith, 2009). Nationally and globally the third wave, or information age, birthed a knowledge economy; reshaping workforce demands and requiring more knowledge workers and fewer unskilled laborers (Brinkley, 2006). An analysis of projected workforce demands reveals in 1973 72% of all occupations were filled by workers with a high school diploma or less. By 2018 this figure is expected to decrease to only 32% (Carnevale, Smith, & Strohl, 2010). In some states, like Texas, the proportion of jobs for unskilled workers has steadily declined reaching less than 20% of all available jobs (Texans for Education Reform, 2014). These staggering figures prompt a natural response, what does this mean to our nation’s workforce development efforts? And more specifically, how do community colleges, a significant and historical provider of workforce preparation, respond to this twenty-first century reality? To remain a player in a global economy, community colleges must educate and equip workers to succeed in an expanding knowledge-based, high-wage occupation sector. Since community colleges enroll more than 11.8 million students, they serve as key contributors (DOLETA, 2014; Keup, 2011). Jacobs and Dougherty (2006) rightfully note that “taken broadly, the community college workforce development mission includes all the institutional programs, courses, and activities that prepare students for work” (p. 53). Admissions, testing centers, academic advising, academic support programs, student activities, and financial aid represent some of the necessary institutional entities for workforce student success. Admissions assists students through applying and entering community colleges. Testing centers facilitate placement testing to inform students about coursework options. Academic advisors aid in course selection based on testing results, career interests, and goals. Academic support services help students develop effective student habits and skills through offerings such as tutoring and learning skills workshops. Student activities work to integrate students into campus life. Financial aid personnel guide students through identifying and accessing resources to fund their education.

Key to providing programs and services for students seeking workforce training is federal funding. For example, federal funds are made available to develop academic, career, and technical skills of secondary and postsecondary students who elect to enroll in CTE programs through The Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act. Perkins funds specifically aid postsecondary institutions that enroll students in workforce education programs through the funding of occupationally-relevant equipment, vocational curriculum materials, materials for learning labs, curriculum development or modification, staff development, career counseling and guidance activities, and efforts for academic-vocational integration. Further, continuing education courses allow workers to maintain certifications and other credentials. When students complete professional or job training programs, career services works to connect them with employers by assisting with interviewing skills, resume preparation, and job searches. Although all community college efforts aim to undergird this vital mission, how community colleges guide and assist students through support services carries significant weight in workforce student outcomes. A number of approaches to support services have emerged in response to community college student needs. Successfully guiding students through career planning, course selection, and institutional infrastructure such as admissions, testing, academic advising, and financial aid processes requires diligence and innovation particularly given today’s workforce landscape.

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