Education, training are keys to new job skills
by RICK CREASY, director of Workforce Development at CSCC
Jan 20, 2013 | 945 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(Editor’s Note: Rick Creasy, director of Workforce Development at Cleveland State Community College, is contributing a four-part column series to the Cleveland Daily Banner regarding the U.S. job market and its challenges — past, present and future. Once the “Today’s Job Market” series is completed, Creasy will provide workforce development opinion pieces to the Banner’s Editorial Page on a periodic basis).

How can we regain our world leadership in education and training for the 21st century?

We can start by making sure our children finish high school and then engage in postsecondary education or technical training. Encourage students to finish or complete postsecondary training which offers a valid certificate or degree. Keep in mind that some employers today are less concerned about the “degree,” and are turning their focus to certification in specific fields and technical skills.

Jobs are requiring employees to have a STEM education with skills in science, technology, engineering and math. In some cases, it will be necessary for those seeking employment to return to school for additional training and education. I recently heard an administrator for a small community college state that more and more applicants who already had earned their bachelor’s degree were returning to community college to obtain specific technical training and certification because of changes in the workforce.

Employers play a critical role in training and development, and their efforts often go unnoticed. The Georgetown University Public Policy Institute estimates that $3 of every $5 spent on postsecondary education come from employer-based training. Having myself worked for a pharmaceutical company for a number of years, I know firsthand the dedication and commitment many corporations make toward training and development of their employees.

There are many benefits to all stakeholders when employers invest in their employees. The workers sharpen their skills, gain knowledge and productivity increases. Employees in turn are more loyal and demonstrate more contentment on the job.

Community colleges are quickly becoming the focal point to help align job-seeker skills and academic achievement, with employer expectations. Community colleges are committed to align their academic services and workforce training to connect with local employers which will close gaps and build bridges between business needs and higher education instruction. Strengthened alliances between the college and local employers will provide more qualified graduates who present credentials and skills more aligned with productivity and expectations of the employers.

As residents of Bradley County, we can continue to challenge our local officials to align curriculum and academic tracks with current and future employer demands for technical and skilled expertise. Bradley County Schools and the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce are actively pursuing strategies to better prepare job applicants to meet the demands of local employers by focusing on STEM. Cleveland State is committed to working with the school system, employers and with the Chamber of Commerce to achieve mutual goals.

Cleveland State Workforce Development is currently collaborating with United Way of Bradley County Inc. to design and develop pathways linking young job seekers with programs, courses and skills training needed to compete in the changing job market.

Too often the unemployed seem stuck as they watch time pass with no offers of employment. I remember one of my high school teachers who encircled her large, round, classroom clock hanging over the chalk board with a round sign that read “Time Will Pass, Will You?” Yes, time is passing by. Change is rapidly occurring within the workforce.

Employers are demanding more skilled training for their new hires than ever before.

So what should you do if you are unemployed and desire to enter the workforce? Have you recently experienced job displacement? What if you are currently employed, but have anxiety about your future position because of rapidly changing technology and computerization? What actions are you taking to successfully navigate this paradigm shift and prepare for the future workforce demands?

Much of the demand for skilled workers arises because the automated factories demand workers who can operate, program and maintain the new, computerized equipment. Many of those who have been laid off can operate only the old-fashioned manual machines.

The old lathes and mills were operated by hand and turned out pieces one by one. The new ones, as big as minivans and arrayed with screens and buttons, must be programmed with codes that sometimes look arcane. Once they are programmed, they churn out piece after piece left unattended.

If this describes your current situation, consider re-training or gaining additional skills through postsecondary education. For more information, please visit our website www.clevelandstatecc.edu/onesource.