Emsi Case Study (See Full Archive)
Summary: Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan, launched two new programs in fall 2015: a bachelor of science in culinary and dietary operations management (the first of its kind among two-year schools in Michigan) and a brewing certificate program. To understand workforce demand for both programs, Schoolcraft turned to Emsi Analyst—labor market research software that the college has been using extensively for nine years in its program review process.
“Emsi data regarding job types, wages, and growth is essential when making programmatic decisions in all of our occupational programs,” said Robert Leadley, dean of occupational programs and economic development.
Key takeaways: Emsi labor market data helped:
- Evaluate workforce need and in-demand occupations
- Determine the focus of each program
- Design curriculum to meet the needs of local businesses and prepare students for jobs
With the kickoff of the 2015-2016 school year, Schoolcraft College launched two exciting new programs: a four-year degree in culinary arts (the first of its kind to be offered by a two-year institution in Michigan) and a brewing certificate program. While the two programs might be out of the blocks together, their inceptions were quite different. The culinary degree was several years in the making; brewing, from research to launch, took about 13 months.
The common factor? Data. Using Emsi’s labor market information, Schoolcraft tackled key questions in the planning process: Were the programs feasible, not just fun? Competitive, not just cool? Would they equip students with valuable skills for in-demand jobs? The answers: All yes.
Culinary: Creating a Formidable Force in the Market
On December 31, 2012, the Michigan legislature passed a bill allowing two-year colleges to offer four-year degrees in several specific fields: energy production, cement technology, and culinary arts. For Schoolcraft, building on its already prestigious two-year culinary program was a no-brainer. The college had been at the forefront of the battle for the bill and “the decision was made,” said vice president and chief academic officer Richard Weinkauf. “It was time to put our energy into culinary arts.”
The only question was, which track?
The quickest shortcut was to simply hook two years of business classes onto the two-year culinary degree. Another option was to partner with a four-year university.
Schoolcraft chose neither.
“We wanted high-demand, high-wage jobs.” – Krystal Majewski, research analyst
“Our sense of integrity and the fact that we’re the best community college culinary program in the state—we weren’t going to dilute our brand by allowing poorly trained four-year culinary grads out into the world,” Weinkauf explained. “We weren’t going to abuse our privilege by simply turning it into a business degree but calling it a culinary degree. So we delved into the questions: What would a four-year culinary graduate need? And which areas in the job market pay the best and have the most demand?”
Krystal Majewski, research analyst in Schoolcraft’s research and analytics department, used Analyst to conduct an environmental scan and determine the best specialized track. “Emsi’s occupation reports helped me figure out what would yield the highest return for our students,” she said. “We wanted high-demand, high-wage jobs.”
Education levels, earnings, growth, knowledge, skills, and abilities—Were they different? Evolving? After considering each, Majewski determined that the most promising track was nutrition and dietician. “We realized that there’s a need for educated professionals in that area,” Majewski said, referencing the growing trend for eating healthy, locally sourced foods, as well as the increasing number of allergies and dietary restrictions.
The new culinary program combines business and entrepreneurial coursework with nutrition and food science coursework—a strategic blend. “Often times, people might have the right cooking skills, but they don’t have the business skills to make their venture successful,” said Michelle Stando, director of research and analytics. “People were combining our business certificates with culinary certificates if their goal was to become an entrepreneur or own their own business, so the bachelor of science was a good way to fit it all together.”
It certainly helps differentiate Schoolcraft from the competition. “We added the nutrition side which no one is really packaging for their four-year degree,” Weinkauf said. “They’re all jamming some standard business onto their two-year degree. We did half and half: business and entrepreneurial with significant amounts of food science and nutrition so that graduates go out into the market place armed.”
“When you blend science and business together with your cooking, you become a formidable force in the market.” – Richard Weinkauf, vice president and chief academic officer
A major goal for this business and science combo is to qualify students for management-level positions. “When you leave this program, you’ve proven that you know how to cook, and one thing that cooks don’t like is a non-cook managing them,” noted Weinkauf, himself a chef. “You’ve also covered all the objectives to sit for the certified dietary manager certification, which has become an entry-level nutrition certification for food services establishments and management now. When you blend science and business together with your cooking, you become a formidable force in the market.”
Brewing: Real Fun…Real Life
Schoolcraft’s brewing certificate program, despite its rapid launch, nearly didn’t launch at all. Weinkauf, a home-brewer for 20 years, was naturally interested in a program for suds, but resisted for that very reason. “I’m always trying to get my own personal interests into a program,” he said, joking that “oh, we should get a poker program!” So when he tossed around the idea of a brewing program, he never took people’s positive reactions seriously. “They said it’d be cool, but of course it’d be cool—I love it!”
Another reason Weinkauf resisted was that in the increasingly competitive community college market (there are three community colleges in Schoolcraft’s county alone), schools are tempted to latch onto trendy—though nonstrategic—programs. “The competition has translated into ‘you’ve got to have the latest, coolest, most interesting thing on the block.’ We’ve never done that.”
But when the notion of a brewing program didn’t die, Weinkauf determined to research. Would the program work in the favor of the college, the students, and the community? “We wanted something of substance,” he said. There was also the question of emphasis. “It could be brewing, it could be winery, it could be distilling.”
Majewski used Emsi’s industry reports to check the feasibility and determine the right course for the program. “It was helpful to see the map regional breweries,” she said. “I also looked at the industry comparison report between wineries and breweries in our MSA. And I looked at competition; I looked at local competitors, national competitors, and international competitors.”
The results? “The research confirmed brewing as absolutely the biggest, fastest-growing field,” Weinkauf said. “And it confirmed my suspicion that winemaking is generally not a growth industry in this part of the state. Distilling surprised me; I thought it would be growing yet still small, but it turned out to be growing enough for us to make it part of the program.”
“It was amazing to see projected growth in the triple digits from 2012 to 2021 for brewing,” Majewski added. “At 200% growth, our region had more growth than the state of Michigan and the nation.”
The research took place between July and September of 2014, Weinkauf obtained the president’s go-ahead in December—and the program was off the ground. “It was very fast,” Weinkauf said. “It’s come from virtually nothing to being offered on August 31.”
“It was amazing to see projected growth in the triple digits from 2012 to 2021 for brewing.” – Weinkauf
The brewing program’s mission—equipping students for the workplace—means that everything about the program is as real-life as possible. Instruction from actual professionals and hands-on experience will prepare students for jobs in a brewery or a distillery. Renovations have also begun to equip the campus with a commercial-capacity brewery that will allow Schoolcraft to produce up to 217 gallons at a time.
The class also hammers home a hard truth: Brewing doesn’t start out all that glamorous. Straight out of school, students will be lucky to land a job as a brewer. “A lot of people think they’re going to get out and get a job as a brewer, and what we’re going to teach them is, you’re not,” Weinkauf said. “You’re going to be a packager or a cellarman. Brewers are promoted from within once you’ve proven yourself on the packaging line or the fermentation line.”
But with careers in mind, dedicated students—of both the culinary and the brewing program—should expect nothing else. Thanks to Schoolcraft’s excellent program planning, these students will learn firsthand that when a college uses real data, graduates are better equipped for real life.
ABOUT SCHOOLCRAFT COLLEGE
Schoolcraft College was established in 1961 in Livonia, Michigan, and offers classes, certificate programs, and associate degrees in more than 70 different majors. Each year, more than 30,000 people enrich their personal and professional lives by taking part in a learning experience at Schoolcraft College. The mission of the college is to provide a transformational learning experience designed to increase the capacity of individuals and groups to achieve intellectual, social, and economic goals.
Economic Modeling Specialists Intl. provides comprehensive, user-friendly labor market data that helps educational institutions, workforce planners, and regional developers (such as workforce development boards and economic development organizations) build a better workforce and improve the economic conditions in their regions.