What is a Workforce Education?
A workforce education means programs that train, develop, and sustain essential career skills. Those enrolled in workforce education can be high school or college students, employees, prospective employees, and individuals across any industry looking to add skills. Community colleges and technical schools lead the way in quality, affordable access to valuable workforce education.
Workforce education is typically a comprehensive approach and collaborative effort on behalf of community organizations, educators, employees, funding agencies, and local and regional companies to connect people to employment opportunities.
Combining in-demand employment skills with students’ career interests, flexible workforce education programs fit into busy lives, develop leadership capacities, and provide excellent practical experience for their future careers.
Credit Programs. Community Colleges offer Certificates and Associate degrees in majors that match your local job market’s needs. We call these workforce programs and sometimes refer to them as Career and Technical programs. Here are some points to help you decide if they are right for you.
- These programs lead to good jobs—a job that pays family-sustaining earnings. Manufacturing, IT and Healthcare are good choices if you want to make $35K – $50K when you get out.
- Students completing these programs are in high demand. Colleges work with local businesses and industry leaders and build these programs with the local economy in mind. That means you don’t have to move to move up in the world.
- Many of these programs transfer to a four-year college. Remember, these are credit programs. Many four-year colleges have stepped up and now have transfer pathways for workforce degrees. They are primarily in business and management fields; in case you aspire to work in a management role or want to start your own company.
- Many of these programs stack credentials. For example, if you want to get your associates in computer programming, you’ll likely be earning IT certifications along the way. When you graduate, you will have lots of things to talk about in an interview.
- Credit workforce programs can lead to very high paying jobs. Majors matter, but if you get into the right field, your two-year degree can take you into a great career with the pay to match.
- Practice work environments. Colleges partner with different businesses and industries to provide you with internships, apprenticeships, and practice learning environments.
- Faculty are seasoned employees. Workforce faculty have long careers doing what they are teaching. Some are still working, and others are looking for a way to give back to their communities. They will help you learn and help you find a job.
- Credit programs open the doors to more financial aid. There are lots of options at community college, but credit programs require admission to the college, and open you up to receiving Pell grants, State Aid, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities.
- Being in a workforce program gives you an instant relationship with employers. Community colleges have done much of the networking for you. Your degree signals to employers that you know what you’re doing, and you’re ready.
Non-Credit Programs. These are less known, but a major part of what community colleges do with and for businesses in your community. Here’s how they work:
- Skill up. Sometimes you already have a degree, and you just want a skill (or two) so you can expand your employability footprint or qualify for a new position.
- Get a job fast. You may be looking at a job you want that requires a few skills you don’t have yet, and once you do; you can get the job.
- Employers want you to learn more. You might be in a job where your employer wants you to get new skills. Community colleges help by providing customized on-the-job training.
- Learn a new language. Non-credit language development can teach you English, Spanish, and sometimes, other languages as well.
- Connections. Once you get the skills, then what? Your college helps you network by cultivating connections to employment.
- Faculty are seasoned employees. Just like in credit programs, workforce faculty have long careers doing what they are teaching. They will help you learn and help you find a job.
Businesses backing workforce education simultaneously support state and local innovation — growing the economy. When workforce education serves students striving to succeed within their communities, the potential for providing purpose and a better life not only extends to one person but entire populations. By addressing the skills gap and administering or enrolling in workforce education, we hold the power to advance the nation to newfound possibilities and potential.