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The Enrollment Roller-Coaster

The Enrollment Roller-Coaster

~Numbers fall in a rising economy, but college continues to train students to meet workforce needs~

The following content, courtesy of Virginia Business:

Reynolds students

While it has three campuses, half of the students take some classes online. Courtesy Reynolds Community College

At the opening convocation of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in late September, President Gary Rhodes listened to the school’s alma mater, introduced and recognized other guests and college board members gathered on the college’s Henrico County campus.

Rhodes noted that the college foundation had, among other moves, awarded $500,000 in student scholarships while raising money for a new IV pump for the health-care programs, a 3-D printer for engineering and a drone for horticulture studies. He also went over some improvements at the college’s three campuses in Henrico, Goochland counties and Richmond.

Then, under a PowerPoint slide headlined “Challenges,” Rhodes dropped a bombshell. “Enrollments are down 25 percent over the past five years,” he said. The audience greeted the revelations with silence.

Later, Rhodes said that, while he was not offering excuses for the drop in enrollment, the dynamics under which community colleges operate explain a lot about what happened.

In 2012, when Virginia’s economy still was clawing its way out of the Great Recession, Reynolds hit an enrollment high of more than 20,000 students. Many sought workplace skills to help them find new jobs or careers.

Now, with Richmond’s unemployment hovering at 4 percent or less, enrollment has dipped to 16,800 or so. People are less likely to enroll in college when they have jobs and things are good, Rhodes notes.

He says the formula for the roller coaster that community colleges ride in enrollments is simple. “Weak economy equals strong enrollments. Strong economy equals weak enrollments,” he explains.

Every year, Rhodes says, the college makes “a conservative guesstimate” of what its enrollment will be. If enrollment falls, and the cash flow from tuitions is lower than expected, faculty and staff are not replaced if they leave or various programs are merged.

“Ultimately, we want to have healthy enrollment, and it’s not just the money side. It’s the workers,” Rhodes says. “Pick any industry out there, and they’re just screaming that they can’t find trained workers.”

Students from 42 countries
Preparing those workers is a top priority for Reynolds and other community colleges. Students obtain industry certification, earn associate degrees or transfer to four-year institutions for more education. On average, about 900 students transfer each year from Reynolds.

Rhodes, a former board chair of the Greater Richmond Chamber of Commerce (now, ChamberRVA), says his favorite data point — one that nearly always gets an audience’s attention — is this: “One out of every four workers in the Greater Richmond region has attended Reynolds Community College, and one in every three health-care workers,” Rhodes says, citing a study by the Richmond-based SIR consulting firm.

Since Reynolds opened in 1972, it has become the third-largest community college in Virginia (behind Northern Virginia and Tidewater community colleges), and officials say that more than 310,000 students have enrolled in for-credit courses.

Today, half of Reynolds students are taking one or more classes online, and 17 percent are earning all of their credits online. This fall, the student body included representatives from 42 foreign countries, including war-torn Afghanistan.

Besides fluctuations in the economy, Rhodes cites other factors that affect enrollment.

Low birth rates 18 years ago led to fewer U.S. students entering college in 2017. Also, state funding has dwindled over the years from 60 percent to 35 percent of Reynolds’ operational budgets, Rhodes says. As a result, tuitions are higher, and students have to shoulder more of the costs.

To boost its student body, Reynolds is making the enrollment process simpler and engaging more students while they are still in high school or middle school, through programs such as Advance College Academies. Under that program, outstanding high school students can earn associate degrees while completing their high-school diploma requirements.

The program has set up an interesting dynamic for its high school seniors. They are awarded their associate degrees in May before they receive their high-school diplomas in June. “They graduate from college before they graduate from high school,” Rhodes says with a laugh. In 2017, 63 high school students graduated from the program.

Students typically apply to an academy program in the eighth grade through their local school division, enroll in advanced high-school courses in the ninth and 10th grades and take the required college coursework for their associate degrees during the 11th and 12th grades. “They will stay together all four years,” Rhodes says of students in the program.

JLARC report
Community colleges are likely to come under scrutiny at the next session of the General Assembly as the result of a report issued in September by the state Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC).

Among other findings, JLARC reported that only 39 percent of Virginia’s community college students earned degrees or other credentials, a trend in line with patterns seen across the nation.

JLARC also says that the process and resources enabling community college students to transfer to four-year institutions are difficult to use.

JLARC adds that rising tuition rates and fees at community colleges could affect access, affordability and student success. During the past 10 years, tuition and fees have grown from 6 percent of per-capita disposable income to 11 percent, the report says.

Echoing comments by community college Chancellor Glenn DuBois, Rhodes notes that, while there is room for improvement, many of the issues raised by JLARC can be traced to the different populations served by community colleges and four-year institutions. Generally speaking, community college students are older, poorer and attend college part time, Rhodes says. “Seventy-five percent of our students are part time,” the Reynolds president says, “and 75 percent work.”

Workforce development
While Reynolds has seen an overall drop in enrollment, students have been rushing to enter the college’s workforce development program for high-demand fields, such as welding, manufacturing and health care.

“The Community College Workforce Alliance, which is a partnership of Reynolds and John Tyler [Community College], was No. 1 in the state for workforce credential attainment, No. 1 for the number of people we have enrolled in the program,” says Elizabeth Creamer, vice president for workforce development at Reynolds.

As of mid-September, more than 900 students have been through the program under the Reynolds/Tyler alliance. The principal driver of the program has been the Workforce Credential Grant, established by the legislature, which has just completed its first year.

Under the grant, the state pays two-thirds of the tuition costs directly to the college, with students responsible for the other third. But requirements are stringent. The college is paid a third of the cost only when a student successfully completes the course, and the final third is received only if the student successfully obtains a credential or certification from an industry or certifying agency.

The bar also is high even before the first dollar is paid. “You can only get a credential through the state at greatly reduced or no cost if it’s aligned with a regionally available job for which there is a documented shortage of workers,” Creamer says.

Besides preparing students for high-demand occupations, the program also certifies teachers.

Those teachers, who must already possess a bachelor’s degree before they enter the program, are largely destined for public schools in subject areas where instructors are hard to find: technical education, science and technology, engineering technology and mathematics.

“We’re not going to get the teachers in the fields we need through the teacher education programs at the universities,” Creamer says. “So, we have expedited programs for those who have a baccalaureate and who are willing and able to go into teaching. They can access that job now and get their teaching credentials in a matter of months, not years.”

Transfer students
Reynolds also transfers about 900 students annually to four-year institutions. One of them was Sofia Duarte, whose parents operate a small residential cleaning service in the Richmond area.

Duarte, now 21, says she chose to go to a community college to save on higher-education costs — about $20,000 less when a student first goes to a community college and then transfers — and to help ensure that her parents had enough money to help her younger sister.

Duarte, an honors student, earned scholarships at Reynolds, worked a variety of part-time jobs, and then transferred to Virginia Commonwealth University where she is now a senior in the School of Engineering, earning a degree in electrical engineering. “Honestly, for me Reynolds opened a lot of doors to meet amazing people and have amazing opportunities,” Duarte says. She says Reynolds offered small classes, good teachers and strong academic advising.

And her younger sister, Sabrina, 18, whom she mentored, has done okay, too. She’s now enrolled at the University of Richmond, on scholarship.

Rhodes, who is now in his 16th year as president of Reynolds, says he knows enrollments will continue to fluctuate as the economy fluctuates. But that’s not what concerns him most.

He is worried about many young people and adults — from underemployed baccalaureate degree holders who can’t find jobs in their field to high school dropouts to laid-off workers — who could benefit from the wide variety of programs offered by Reynolds. “Everything we do here at the community college is preparing people for life and careers,” Rhodes says.


Content credit: Gary Robertson, Virginia Business
Photo credit for students and Dr. Rhodes: Reynolds Community College
Photo credit for Elizabeth Creamer: Shandell Taylor
Original Article: http://www.virginiabusiness.com/news/article/the-enrollment-roller-coaster

Find Your Path and Move Ahead: Fall Schedule

Find Your Path and Move Ahead: Fall Schedule

Fall into a season of learning and build your skills, to boost job performance or land a new position. CCWA’s fall catalog is full of short-term classes or certification programs, offered at our three convenient locations and online. And learn more about our Workforce Credential Grant (WCG) program offering industry-recognized certificate programs for one-third of the cost to help you with a new career in high-demand fields throughout the region.

Take a look at our new catalog or visit us at ccwatraining.org for more information.

Download a PDF of the full catalog: CCWA Fall 2017 Schedule.

Governor McAuliffe Announces 2,173 Credentials Awarded Through New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program

Governor McAuliffe Announces 2,173 Credentials Awarded Through New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant Program

~ New grants spur big gains in Virginia Community Colleges’ Workforce Credential Training Programs ~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Monday that, through the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant program, Virginia’s Community Colleges provided workforce training that enabled 2,173 Virginians to secure industry-recognized credentials, licenses, and certifications needed for high-demand careers, in the first year of the grant program. Governor McAuliffe awarded the 2,172nd and 2,173rd credentials at an event commemorating this achievement this afternoon.

This milestone nearly triples the number of people who were credentialed last year, bringing the total to 4,268 Virginians. More than half of the credential earners, 2,173, took advantage of the New Economy Workforce Credentials Grant program. Training for the remaining 2,095 credentials was funded by employers, federal grants, or other private sources.

“Today’s announcement is a landmark achievement for our workforce development efforts,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe speaking at the announcement event. “Clearly, the timing was right for this innovative initiative to help our businesses find qualified workers and empower more Virginians to seek good-paying jobs. In partnership with the General Assembly and our public and private sector partners, we are filling key gaps in the workforce pipeline and putting more Virginians to work in the new Virginia economy.”

“Whether we’re attracting new businesses to Virginia or helping our existing employers grow and compete, we need to continually strengthen our workforce,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore. “Today’s announcement marks a nearly 180 percent increase in earned credentials in the first year of this program. This significant growth is a great sign for what we can do for Virginia’s workforce moving forward.”

With broad bipartisan support, the 2016 General Assembly created the New Economy Workforce Credential Grant Fund and program to encourage more Virginians to prepare for careers that require specialized training, but not necessarily college degrees. This fund provides grants covering two-thirds of the tuition for students who are enrolled in a workforce training program designed to fill in-demand jobs in their home region. The year before the new workforce training grant program went into effect, community colleges provided training for 1,528 Virginians to earn those professional credentials.

“This success is a tribute to the power of collaboration,” said Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “As we ramped up our workforce training capacity to respond to the new state grants program, we also created new training opportunities that motivated students to tap into a variety of other funding sources.”

“This is a significant milestone in Virginia’s efforts to better align the workforce system to help close the skills gap and prepare Virginians for good careers in high priority industries,” added Mark Herzog, Chair of the Virginia Board of Workforce Development.

Virginia’s businesses are eager to hire workers with a wide variety of skills in fields ranging from information technology and advanced manufacturing to education, health care, logistics and transportation. By pursuing industry-recognized credentials, students can qualify for promising careers in weeks or months instead of semesters and years, and without incurring large amounts of student debt.

“Through better and more accessible training, Virginia is boosting its ability to create a 21st century workforce,” said Barry DuVal, President and CEO of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. “This is great news for our business community and for people who are starting out or getting a fresh start on their careers.”

Now entering its second year of operation, Virginia’s New Economy Workforce Credential Grant program greatly reduces the out-of-pocket cost for Virginians to enroll in specified training programs to earn industry-recognized certifications. The Virginia Board of Workforce Development has developed a list of high-demand occupations, which is further vetted as educators work closely with Virginia businesses in regions across the Commonwealth to develop and deliver related workforce training to prepare people for those jobs. Currently, grants are available to support 146 training courses offered throughout Virginia’s 23 community colleges.
To learn more about workforce credential grants, please visit http://www.vccs.edu/workforce/.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 252,000 students each year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

###

Charlotte Gomer
Office of Governor Terence R. McAuliffe
Press Assistant
Charlotte.Gomer@governor.virginia.gov


Content credit: Office of the Governor.

Photo credit: Clement Britt, Virginia’s Community Colleges

Learn more about the workforce certificates offered at CCWA by visiting http://ccwatraining.org/certifications/.

Are you engaging your employees?

Are you engaging your employees?

Investing in talent development for your employees benefits your bottom line.
You’ve probably heard this paradox:
What if we train them, and they leave?
What if we don’t, and they stay?

Where does your organization stand on these questions?

The 2017 Gallup State of the American Workplace report asserts that “the key to an organization’s growth has been and always will be its workforce.” Employee retention and engagement are more than buzz words; they are critical components of the overall performance of an organization.

According to Gallup, “The desire to learn and grow is a natural human need and one that is required to keep employees motivated and progressing. When employees feel they are learning and growing, they work harder and more efficiently. And the best employees are never quite satisfied with their work. They always strive to find better, more productive ways to work. In this kind of work environment, innovation emerges. When people grow, companies evolve and grow and are more likely to stay in business.”

Renee Gendron, in a blog for the Association of Talent Development, writes that employers can be proactive and intentional about the professional growth of their employees. According to Gendron, “When employers develop their own talent, not only are they saving money because they have lower turnover rates, but they are also developing their own internal leadership skills.” Building leaders from within helps to create stronger teams in an improved culture of development.

Likewise, a recent Robert Half blog entry discusses some reasons why investing in employee growth is a smart idea. They suggest that professional development will:

  • Increase collective knowledge of your team
  • Boost job satisfaction
  • Attract the right kind of job candidates during recruitment
  • Enhance the organization’s appeal to prospective and incumbent employees
  • Identify future leaders from within the organization
  • Increase retention

“Unfortunately,… many organizations spend more on recruiting new talent than developing the top talent they already have; that has to change in order for companies to be successful in a tight talent market.”

— Joyce Maroney
Kronos Incorporated & Director of the Workforce Institute

CCWA partners with hundreds of employers each year to offer a wide range of professional development services to engage your team. Our custom-designed programs may begin with an assessment, followed by the creation of tools to fill performance gaps; then, we can provide training and coaching solutions that allow your employees to reach their full potential. If you’re interested in learning more about CCWA’s client services, please contact:

Joyce Lapsley
Client Solutions Manager
Community College Workforce Alliance
Phone: 804-706-5180
Email: JLapsley@ccwa.vccs.edu

Get Assistance to Earn Industry Credentials – A third of the cost for Professional Certificates

Get Assistance to Earn Industry Credentials – A third of the cost for Professional Certificates

CCWA offers 10 workforce credential grant programs as announced in the Governor’s release below. Governor McAuliffe Announces Workforce Grant Program and speaks to how “Credentials Will Open Doors to Promising, High-Demand Career Opportunities.”

Learn more about CCWA’s Certificate Programs.

Governor McAuliffe Announces Workforce Grant Program

~ Credentials Will Open Doors to Promising, High-Demand Career Opportunities~

RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe today announced the launch of a new grant program designed to ensure that workforce credentials are accessible and affordable for Virginians seeking the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs in high-demand fields.

The New Economy Workforce Industry Credentials Grant program covers 124 different community college training programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges geared toward providing workforce credentials at one-third of their former cost.

“This program establishes a first-in-the-nation performance funding formula to create and sustain a supply of credentialed workers who meet the needs identified by our business leaders,” said Governor McAuliffe. “This week’s launch is the culmination of many months of hard work by public and private sector partners, all of us working together to ensure that Virginia has a 21st century workforce with the skills and experience to compete in today’s global economy.”

Virginia’s Community Colleges consulted with Virginia businesses to develop the list of eligible credentials that can provide access to a wide variety of high-demand jobs, such as certified welder, electrician, medical records tech, computer network specialist, pharmacy tech, digital security specialist, emergency medical tech, industrial machinery mechanic, dental assistant, and commercial truck driver.  The Virginia Board of Workforce Development identified more than 170 in-demand jobs aligned with the Commonwealth’s economic development targets for which Virginians can prepare through the new workforce program.

These are jobs that require specific skills, but not necessarily a traditional college degree. Community Colleges are making it even easier to earn workforce credentials by developing new programs and adding classes and locations for increased convenience.

“To create the skilled workforce the Commonwealth needs now and in the future, we need more options for training and credentialing that work for Virginians of all ages and life circumstances,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones. “With the New Economy Workforce Credentials program, for the first time, we have new options for workforce training and development that promptly get trainees into the skilled labor force.”

Research indicates that these workforce credentials are in high demand across Virginia and will be for the foreseeable future. The company Burning Glass produced a recent report indicating that there were more than 175,000 job vacancies for so-called middle-skill occupations last year in Virginia – the types of jobs that typically require some type of credential. The jobs paid more than $28 per hour (or more than $58,500 per year). According to the research, the jobs went unfilled for an average period of 26 days, which is longer than the national average. As a result, Virginia businesses lost 36.4 million hours of productivity. Virginia families lost more than $1 billion in potential wages, and Virginia’s General Fund lost more than $54.3 million in revenue.

Other studies predict that Virginia will have to fill more than 1.4 million jobs over the next decade. As many as two-thirds of those positions will require postsecondary level workforce credentials.

“The New Economy Workforce Industry Credentials Grant program will be a game changer for the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Education Dietra Trent. “The in-depth research that has gone into establishing this innovative program will help us to increase access and success in higher education, especially for some of our most underserved populations.”

Students enrolling in one of the workforce credential training programs covered by the new grants will pay only one-third of the normal cost. Program costs vary widely, depending on the length and complexity of the training. For a list of programs covered by the grants, visit this link on the VCCS website.

The maximum value of each grant is $3,000. For example, a student who enrolls in and successfully completes a grant-eligible program that normally costs $4,500 will now pay $1,500, and the grant covers $3,000 of the cost. Additional financial aid can offset that cost even further. More information is available at the workforce development offices of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Governor McAuliffe won bipartisan support this year among Virginia lawmakers for funding to enable approximately 10,000 Virginians to receive Workforce Credentials Grants for training costs over the next two years. This unique performance-based funding model is the first in the nation. Further, it represents the first significant public funding for workforce training programs in the 50-year history of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

“These workforce credentials increasingly represent the American Dream in the 21st century,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Individuals earn these credentials in weeks and months, not semesters and years. Those students are often quickly employed by businesses hungry for their skills. And they accomplish all that without piling on a decade’s worth of student debt.”

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Since 1966, Virginia’s Community Colleges have given everyone the opportunity to learn and develop the right skills so lives and communities are strengthened. By making higher education and workforce training available in every part of Virginia, we elevate all of Virginia. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve approximately 400,000 students each year.  For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu. To share a story about how community colleges change lives, visit 50.vccs.edu.

The Hows and Whys of Workplace Assessments

The Hows and Whys of Workplace Assessments

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, the assessment industry has been growing by 10 percent for the last several years. The rise in popularity of assessments can be attributed to several factors, not the least of which is summed up in Will Brooks’ recent Association for Talent Development blog post, “Let’s be honest: people love learning about themselves.” Self-awareness as well as a greater understanding of others has the potential to have a significant impact on performance and productivity.

There is another side to the rise in popularity of assessments, though. The plethora of assessment tools to choose from can be overwhelming: behavioral assessments, personality assessments, and cognitive ability assessments. Understanding what each assessment measures and what business need you are trying to address are key to selecting the right tool. That’s where CCWA can help!

CCWA offers an array of assessments including:

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®)
  • DiSC Assessment
  • Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument
  • Conflict Dynamics Profile
  • StrengthsFinder
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
  • Team Dimensions Profile (CARE Profile)
  • Career Readiness Certificate (CRC)*

*Did you know that many organizations in the Greater Richmond area use the CRC as part of their hiring process? The CRC measures competencies in the areas of reading for information, applied mathematics, and locating information. Call us today if you’re interested in learning more about this assessment tool!

CCWA works closely with clients, listening to your goals, and asking the questions that uncover the real business needs. When we recommend an assessment tool, we also provide an instructor or coach who has an in-depth knowledge of that tool to assist you and your team with interpreting the results and understanding how to use them to improve team performance, develop leadership talent, or enhance individual performance.

In addition to helping our clients understand how to use workplace assessments, we also advise how not to use them. Assessments should not be used as stand-alone indicators of behavior or performance. Instead, they should be used in conjunction with other performance measurements, observations, and maybe even other assessments. As one of our instructors recently said to a class of senior leaders, “Making decisions based solely on an employee’s DiSC profile is like sitting in the cockpit of a 747 and only using the altimeter to fly it.”


If you’re trying to navigate the maze of workplace assessments, choose CCWA as your co-pilot. For more information, please contact:

Joanne Even
Client Solutions Manager
Corporate Training & Consulting
Community College Workforce Alliance
Phone: 804-897-7612
Email: jeven@ccwa.vccs.edu