MCC Innovation: Washington Monthly Names College One of Twelve Best
A recent article in Washington Monthly magazine named MCC one of the twelve most innovative colleges in the U.S. for adult learners. The article notes that roughly 40 percent of students nationally are 25 or older, and their needs may be far different from those of an 18-year-old undergraduate. In MCC’s School of Applied Sciences and Technologies, 731 of the 1,885 students enrolled in the fall 2017 semester are 24 and above. They are career-oriented individuals who often have other commitments, such as a family with small children or a demanding job. The article notes that MCC is “at the cutting edge of making college more responsive to changes in the labor market.” The Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Services division, formed in response to the economic upheaval of the Great Recession in 2007-09, gathered information from the regional economy to help develop programs that would appeal to older students looking to advance their careers. The division created a web platform based on their data, which included information from approximately 2,400 businesses along with statistics from state and regional organizations and job posting sites. It helps to answer a question of vital interest to adult learners: What are the best jobs to help my family and I thrive, and where can I find them? The website provides open access to information on the regional labor market for four middle skills workforce clusters: advanced manufacturing, applied technologies, health care, and information and computer technology. MCC uses this information—what the article calls “hyper-detailed labor data”—to revise course offerings, many of them geared for older adults. The article spotlights, as one example, the tooling and machining trade. In 2012, data unearthed by MCC showed that there were about 231 tooling and machining job openings in the Rochester area. But local colleges were only producing 72 qualified graduates. The result? MCC created a 22-week accelerated machining certificate program. On graduating, 90 percent of the students found jobs—a number that has remained consistent. Estimates now show that the skills gap for the precision tooling and machining workforce has been reduced by 15 percent since 2012 because of the actions of MCC and other education providers.
As a result of the Washington Monthly article, vice president Oldham was invited to participate in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. sponsored by Washington Monthly and think tank New America. In covering the event, the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) said “[MCC] meets the needs of adult students by having more intensive, accelerated programs that enable students to complete college faster,” and thus find higher-level employment more quickly. The College continues to work to provide additional support for adult students. The AACC notes, for example, MCC’s medical assistant program, which holds classes during primary school hours so students who are parents can pick up their children after school. These seemingly small details make a big difference in the sometimes-complicated lives of adult students. The strategic successes that were highlighted by the Washington Monthly article and Washington panel discussion are ongoing. Innovative new programs like LadderzUP (see page 2), a part- nership between MCC’s Economic and Workforce Development Center and Monroe County, uses MCC data and resources to provide additional educational and training support for residents in high-demand industries. You can read the article at: www.workforceforward.com/WashingtonMonthly .