A Study of Workforce Demand & Academic Curricula Executive Summary and Conclusions

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1 A Study of Workforce Demand & Academic Curricula Executive Summary and Conclusions Background for this Study The Community Learning Partnership is a national network of Community Change Studies programs that prepare students for careers in organizing, economic development, advocacy, policy making, and other community-related fields. The programs develop new, educational pathways into community change careers by bringing together community colleges with community partners and four-year universities to offer specialized degrees or certificates that can lead directly to jobs or provide transfer credit for Bachelor or Master Degree programs. In southeast Michigan, Henry Ford College began offering an Associate s Degree in Community Leadership in Fall 2014 and a Certificate in Community Leadership in Similarly, Macomb Community College will be offering a Certificate in Community Leadership in This study provides an assessment of the demand and viability for these Community Leadership degree and certificate programs in southeast Michigan. Goals In an effort to better understand the workforce demand for the Community Leadership degree and certificate programs in southeast Michigan, a committee of representatives from the Community Learning Partnership, Corporation for a Skilled Workforce, Henry Ford College, Macomb Community College, and Southeast Michigan Community Alliance reviewed regional labor market data and information and convened a series of discussions and focus group meetings with community partners and potential employers. Summary of Findings There is a clear demand for and interest in the Community Leadership programs among community partners and potential employers. Students are gaining cross-sectoral skills in a job market that values their lived experiences in their own communities. The Community Learning Partnership s academiccommunity partnership model has a promising future in southeast Michigan. 1

2 Conclusions While the original and central goal for Community Learning Partnership programs has been to increase the number of career community organizers, the actual number of those jobs and openings is limited. What we have learned from our community focus groups is there are broader opportunities in community-facing sectors where graduates can use their skills to lead social change. We ve identified careers paths and positions for graduates in careers that can impact their communities in local government, healthcare, education, human services, arts & culture to build vibrant communities. We are laying out a broad range of opportunities for graduates who have acquired the knowledge and skills for making positive social change. Through these career paths they will address injustice and inequality in their lives, their families and their communities. ü Skills taught in these programs are applicable to a wide range of community-oriented occupations and job postings. ü Majority of leadership jobs ultimately require a Bachelor Degree. ü Experiential learning needs to be integrated throughout the academic program. ü The Community Learning Partnership academic-community partnership model offers the colleges a unique opportunity to create a more dynamic relationship with their communities and carry forward their community college mission. ü Combination of a community college certificate in Community Change Studies and an Associate Degree in another content area is preferred by employers. ü Community partners want to be actively engaged in the education process. ü Multiple recruiting markets exist: current community college students, career changers, graduating high school seniors, volunteers, current practitioners in community-oriented jobs. ü Wrap-around services are essential to student program completion (mentoring, financial assistance, family assistance, transportation, academic counseling & advising, problem-solving, etc.). ü Sector-specific advisory committees would keep community partners actively engaged in student success. ü Southeast Michigan regional governance was supported by the focus group partners. ü Starting salaries will range from $25,000-$45,000 depending on experience and student academic credentials. 2

3 Launching the Study: November 2014 Macomb Community College hosted over 50 community and nonprofit representatives for a conversation about the potential role the community college can play in fostering and inspiring community leadership. The community partners provided insights about their workforce needs and identified challenges in recruitment and hiring. They also identified skills and competencies that would position students to be effective community leaders. Through the labor market data and focus group meetings, the committee s objectives were: 1) Better understand the labor market demand for competencies and credentials related to community change, as well as available jobs and career pathways. 2) Assess community partner interest in southeast Michigan for the Community Leadership degree and certificate programs and related educational pathways. 3) Confirm the curricula helps prepare students with the core skills and knowledge graduates will need for employability. Key questions the committee included, were whether jobs exist for graduates of the Community Leadership programs, which salary ranges would apply to them, and whether employers would give hiring preference to candidates with these credentials. The focus group meetings would also serve to further engage community partners and potential employers in the program and curriculum design. Focus Groups: March 2015 The committee held three focus groups and convened 53 representatives from a diverse set of 35 community partners of the non-profit and public sectors including higher education institutions, workforce development agencies, arts and culture institutions, membership associations, municipalities, youth groups, faith-based organizations, health and social service providers, science institutions, early learning providers, and community and economic development organizations. These agencies and organizations address issues such as adult education, arts and culture, community organizing, diversity and inclusion, early childhood education, environment and energy conservation, faith and religion, food systems, health, housing, hunger, immigration and refugee needs, labor, leadership, substance abuse, urban and regional planning, and youth development. Implications for Partnership & Program Development The results of the focus group meetings illustrate a clear demand for and interest in the Community Leadership programs by the community partners and potential employers. The community partners emphasized the importance of applied and experiential learning and a commitment to continued and active involvement in the programs. Given the focus group feedback, the Community Learning Partnership s academic-community partnership model has a promising future in southeast Michigan. To aid in the successful development of the model, the committee has outlined considerations and recommendations for each of the partners as they develop and expand the Community Leadership programs and seek to fulfill the expectations of the community partners. 3

4 Recommendations for the Program Target Markets & Recruitment Several potential target markets exist for Community Leadership programs. These include currently enrolled students, graduating and dual-enrolled high school students, nontraditional students or career changers, and current employees, volunteers, or constituents of the community partners. Each audience would require customized outreach strategies and may demand different teaching and learning experiences. Since these audiences will vary in age, experience, prior education, etc., recruiters, college faculty, and community partners will need to be flexible in their approach to recruitment, engagement, and educational and career pathway development. Educational & Career Pathway Development A robust and comprehensive set of wrap around services is necessary for students to navigate their educational and career pathways. These services include establishing community mentors, internship and job identification and placement, academic counseling, cohort support and development, etc. They are essential services to ensuring successful program completion. Community Partner Engagement To maintain the continued and active involvement of community partners, an engagement plan would help to ensure clear and consistent communication. Community partners are interested in being guest lecturers and mentors to students in addition to providing internships. This engagement plan would help to define roles and responsibilities and as well as provide guidance to professors on ways to engage and incorporate community partners into their course curriculum. Work-Based Learning And Internship/Job Placement Support The experiential learning components, including the required internship, need to be well crafted with oversight from both the colleges and the community partners and systems need to be in place to facilitate that oversight. Collaborating with community partners to identify specific opportunities for more project- and work-based learning opportunities is an important way to engage practitioners from the field in the teaching and learning process and ensure the courses being offered are closely aligned with specific, community-based issues and work. Advisory Committee The Advisory Committee will provide an ongoing reality check to make sure students are learning skills and gaining experience relevant to the community partners and their internships and job placements. Maintaining an effective advisory committee requires regular and meaningful communication. Curriculum design and evaluation would be critical part of the advisory committee role in partnership with college administration, faculty, students, and graduates. Maintaining this level of diligence and data gathering requires this group convene on a rolling basis to review the curriculum and ensure relevance to employer needs. This group should also be assessing the educational and career support services available for students. Because of the wide-ranging and diverse career paths available to students, establishing several sector-specific advisory committees may be a more effective approach. (more ) 4

5 Recommendations for the Program (continued) Program Management The locally driven approach of the community leadership programs may mean new approaches to student support services and community engagement. Coordination between faculty, counseling and academic advising, career services, university relations - articulation and transfer services, public relations, and enrollment services is important to making sure the content and values of the community learning programs are reaffirmed throughout the student experience. Program management includes this internal coordination as well as the managing of community partner relationships. The added work needed to manage the program may be beyond capacity of the core program faculty and call for additional program support. Regional Governance With a geographic area including Detroit, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Hamtramck, Harper Woods, and Macomb County, the Southeast Michigan Community Learning Partnership programs needs a regional governance committee to maximize resources and facilitate consistency in the programs. Creating regional oversight is also important because many community partners serve the entire region or multiple communities. The governance committee would be responsible for cultivating and maintaining the partnership between the academic institutions and community partners. Other key functions of the committee would include goal setting, evaluation, financial sustainability, and work team development. Report Prepared June 2105, by Jeannine La Prad, Deborah Pfliegel, Toni Moceri This is a summary. For the full report, including job positions and further information about our programs: 5

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