As the emphasis on labor market information in the recent TAACCCT grant announcement made clear, data-informed program planning and the development of strong relationships with key local industry groups are the way of the future for community colleges looking to make a difference for their regions. The White House and Department of Education’s enthusiasm for labor market data’s role in community colleges’ work means colleges need to understand how to integrate labor market data into their processes. But what do those kind of data-informed decisions and industry partnerships look like in practice?
EMSI has long-standing relationships with a number of community colleges and others who are doing an excellent job of blazing trails in this area. They’re doing exciting work in a variety of ways that exemplify the kind of data-informed, results-focused work the TAACCCT program is designed to encourage. In fact, one of them has already drawn the enthusiastic praise of the Vice President himself for the way they’ve used data to create results for their students. And all three of them are applying data in ways other colleges would do well to study.
Monroe Community College
Monroe Community College, in Rochester, New York, has spent the last several years dealing with the decline of Kodak, Bausch & Lomb, and Xerox — once the region’s three largest employers. By taking a data-based approach, Monroe’s work in addressing regional skills shortages and helping revitalize a new manufacturing economy has attracted national acclaim. And it’s all been done by basing its approach on data, research, and employer surveys — what Monroe’s Todd Oldham sees as a model for 21st century workforce development at community colleges.
One of the most important ways that Monroe has integrated with the local economy has been with its cluster-informed economic development strategy. In line with the mission of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, Monroe prioritized five major industry clusters that MCC’s program offerings could best support, and which could provide graduates with employment in a range of middle-skill sectors. Starting with the question of what jobs actually exist in the region, Monroe moved from simply gathering data to developing regular surveys of local businesses, to ensure that they understood the issues and priorities of those employers. Combining this kind of partnership with LMI about the region has allowed Monroe to fully understand the region’s needs and, in partnership with the regional EDC, create successful programs that provide skilled workers for real jobs in the region.
For more about Monroe’s successful model, which has attracted praise from Vice President Biden, and how EMSI’s Analyst and Career Coach tools were pivotal to Monroe’s success, read our case study. You can also watch a recent webinar on Monroe’s methods here:
Walla Walla Community College
Walla Walla, a small city in southeastern Washington, is home to Walla Walla Community College, another EMSI client that has attracted national attention for the way data-informed decisions and partnerships have helped it make a difference in its regional economy. Today the Walla Walla region is one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions for wine-making, with scores of wineries. But that success is due in large part to the work of Wall Walla Community College and its president, Steve VanAusdle. Not too long ago, in the late 1990s, Walla Walla’s economy was faltering with the decline of the local food processing industry. In the early 2000s, however, WWCC, in partnership with local political and business leaders, took a hard look at what the college could do to revitalize the economy.
Based in part on EMSI data, the college decided that the best course of action was to institute a unique Center for Enology and Viticulture designed to bolster the then-fledgling Walla Walla wine industry. Now, with years of real-world testing, the results of that partnership and decision are very much in evidence. WWCC’s Center for Enology and Viticulture is an ongoing success. It, and the rest of WWCC’s work, have resulted in the revitalization of Walla Walla’s economy. Over 80% of the center’s graduates find jobs in the local wine industry. And according to an EMSI impact study the wine industry’s growth, created by that data-informed partnership between educators, politicians, and industry leaders, has meant a multiplier effect of over 6,000 jobs for the region.
Lancaster County Workforce Board
The TAACCCT program is targeted at community colleges and educational institutions. But one of the best examples of the kind of data-informed partnerships the program is designed to create is a workforce investment board in Pennsylvania. Led by Scott Sheely, the Lancaster County Workforce Investment Board has taken a leading role in developing innovative, data-based solutions to its region’s workforce issues. Some time ago they realized that too many people in workforce development were using data to simply reinforce their existing priorities. Instead, Sheely realized he and his team could do more good by letting the data tell them where their priorities should be.
Sheely’s methods use data from a number of sources, including EMSI, to illuminate areas where educators could allocate training funds in order to connect students with real jobs. He begins with data on local industries to see what industries are driving the local economy. From that, he evaluates the occupation mix in each industry to create “career pathways” that include a progression of skill requirements. Then he’s able to see the skills and training that workers will need to get started on that career pathway — knowledge that his partnerships with regional educators can help turn into program-selection realities at local colleges. The Lancaster County Workforce Board’s data-based career pathways and partnerships with educators are the kind of cooperation that the TAACCCT grants are designed to help colleges develop from their side of the equation. To read more about Lancaster County and Scott Sheely’s work, read our case study.
As you can see from these case studies, using labor market data well is crucial to the kind of success that the TAACCCT program is designed to foster. EMSI’s guiding principle is that a skilled, well-prepared workforce drives economic prosperity, and that the successful development of that workforce requires that training, recruiting, hiring, and planning be guided by data-informed decisions. We’re excited to work together with community colleges to achieve the goals set out by the TAACCCT program. We see our products as being uniquely able to help with TAACCCT applications, in a variety of ways:
- Analyst, EMSI’s online labor market research tool, offers community colleges the ability to see detailed, region-specific data on their area’s current and historic industry and occupation mix, allowing them to understand what industries they should partner with, and which occupations they should train for.
- The Gap Analysis Report provides colleges with a comprehensive, data-based, 3rd-party perspective on what their region’s skill and training needs actually are, and partners that with a picture of how the skills local educators are (and aren’t) producing compares with those needs.
- Career Coach makes it easy for colleges to communicate data about the real-world results of different degree paths to current and prospective students — a goal which the TAACCCT program specifically sets out as essential for successful applications.
To learn more about how EMSI data can help your institution with its TAACCCT application, contact Rob Sentz or your customer service representative. Access EMSI’s full archive of client best practices and case studies here. Follow EMSI on Twitter (@DesktopEcon) or check us out on LinkedIn and Facebook.