CE Reacting And Innovating

According to the New York Times’ Steven Greenhouse, colleges across the country are adjusting their continuing education offerings to make sure they line up with current and future labor market needs.

In his story in Wednesday’s Times, particular colleges are lining up their CE offerings to match booming and emerging industries where jobs are, and will be, plentiful.

“We’ve become much more focused, much more agile and much more driven by what the data is telling us on where the jobs are,” Bob Templin, president of Northern Virginia Community College, told Greenhouse. “We’re very market-oriented now, whereas before we would offer the courses that people were interested in teaching and we’d see who would show up. In the last 24 months, we’ve thoroughly reorganized our continuing-education unit, and we now refer to it as ‘Work Force Development in Continuing Education.”

The President of the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education, Henry Merrill, told Greenhouse that programs without a direct connection to the job market are losing popularity among prospective students.

“People have really been going where the money is,” he said. “The liberal arts and humanities kind of continuing-education programs haven’t been as attractive to people. Schools haven’t worked as hard to keep them alive and enroll people in them, not nearly as much as programs that have some connection to workplace skills and professional development.”

A major benefit of offering labor-market directed programming through the continuing education units are their ability to respond and react with agility to the changing needs of the workforce.

“When we are working with associate degrees or college credits, we have to go through a very rigorous academic review,” Rolando Montoya, the provost of Miami Dade College, told Greenhouse. “That takes time. For continuing education, we can react very quickly to the opportunity.”

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