Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

This week Work Shift looks at deepening ties of tech companies with community colleges, virtual recruiting, and the ‘wicked’ challenge of training workers for ECE. We also feature perspectives from an ‘expendable’ worker and a college president working to recruit adults. (Sign up here to get this newsletter.)

Big Tech’s Two-Year College Push

Big tech companies announced new collaborations with community colleges and other open-access institutions in the past week—and the companies increasingly are putting real money and support behind those partnerships.

Microsoft last week rolled out an ambitious campaign with two-year colleges to help train and recruit 250,000 people for the U.S. cybersecurity workforce by 2025. The next day, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities announced that Google’s four career certificates will be offered across the system.

And Grow with Google, the arm of the company that runs the certificate programs, also told CNBC that it’s making the certificates free to all U.S. community colleges and career high schools. Google already is working with JFF to help 100 community colleges offer its IT support certification.

The big idea: The flurry of news comes amid a broader skills-training push by the tech industry, which is scrambling to hire workers and to boost low diversity numbers. The representation of Latino and Black workers in tech is about half their share of the overall U.S. workforce, according to CompTIA. Women hold just 26 percent of tech jobs.

The numbers are even worse in cybersecurity, said Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and vice chair.

“We need to build a cybersecurity workforce that is both larger and more diverse,” he wrote in a blog post. “Community colleges are uniquely situated to help the country do both.”

The kicker: The vote of confidence from big tech sends an important signal about the value and impact of the two-year sector, said Lisa Larson, a former college president and head of the Education Design Lab’s Community College Growth Engine Fund.

“It also signifies these organizations understand partnerships are critical to help community colleges align their curriculum and training to emerging technologies and high-demand skills and competencies,” she said.

Read the full story by Paul Fain at Work Shift.

Voices from the Great Resignation

'Given any opportunity this company would let go of me—because I don’t matter to them'
‘Given any opportunity this company would let go of me—because I don’t matter to them’

Te’Sean Adams, a former shipping clerk, talks to Work Shift about being an expendable ‘essential’ worker. His story is part of a series looking at the pandemic’s impact on people’s education and career plans.

A Lesson in Bringing in Adult Learners

Overall enrollment numbers for community colleges aren’t good. But as Lilah Burke wrote last week, some colleges and even entire states are seeing good results with targeted tuition support and workforce programs for adults.

One of those institutions is Blue Ridge Community College in North Carolina. The college saw its adult student enrollment jump more than 41 percent this fall, and overall enrollment is up 9 percent.

The college targeted adult stop-outs, ran “free college” and job-focused marketing campaigns, tapped local nonprofits to serve as recruiters, and hired success coaches for all its adult students. To pay for it, the institution tapped recovery funds, institutional resources, and funding from several nonprofits focused on adult learners.

“What we learned was that no single strategy alone will work,” Laura Leatherwood, the college’s president, wrote in an op-ed. “The combination of these strategies in addition to a mindset at our college that we needed to be innovative in the future helped us be successful.”

Read Leatherwood’s op-ed, which originally appeared in EdNC, over at Work Shift. Or you can read more about Blue Ridge Community College’s work in the publication’s series on adult learners.

Virtual Job Recruiting

As companies look to diversify, there's promise in something old and something new
As companies look to diversify, there’s promise in something old and something

A new national survey adds to the evidence that women and students of color benefit from virtual recruiting—but they still aren’t getting the paid internships (virtual or not) they need to launch their careers.

‘Wicked’ Challenge in Early Ed Training

Apprenticeships in early childhood education build a skilled workforce, but where’s the pay?
Apprenticeships in early childhood education build a skilled workforce, but where’s the pay?

In California and nationwide, stubbornly low pay in early childhood education makes it almost impossible for workers to train their way to a sustainable living. LA-based reporter Mariana Dale explores that challenge in this article, produced by LAist.

Open Tabs

Degree Requirements

Manufacturing and construction companies increasingly are focused on finding job candidates with specific skills rather than a bachelor’s degree, according to a new analysis of job postings in the U.S., Germany, and the U.K. Emsi Burning Glass conducted the research on behalf of Autodesk, a design, engineering, and entertainment software company.

Unemployed Nurses

“Nursing is a case study on the widening gap between education and employment,” Ryan Craig, managing director at Achieve Partners, wrote in his newsletter. Unemployment rates for new nursing school graduates have trended over 40 percent in urban markets, he noted, while California is facing a projected shortage of 40,000 RNs.

Access and Affordability

A recent survey found that 80 percent of working adults say traditional colleges need to be more affordable and accessible while offering programs geared toward high-paying fields such as technology, programming, healthcare, and business management. The survey by Jenzabar, an education technology company, yielded responses from 2,000 U.S. adults.

Online Learning

A global group of nonprofit providers of online education this week released “core principles for higher education and at-scale learning platform relationships.” The document is an initial step toward determining how participating colleges and universities should work with OPMs to ensure affordability, access, quality, and privacy in online credential programs.

Transfer Gains

More than 400 colleges had large increases in transfer student enrollments last year, according to an analysis from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Several California State University System campuses fared particularly well, while Western Governors University and Southern New Hampshire University also posted big gains.

Comparing ROI

The Postsecondary Value Commission, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, released a new tool today allowing users to compare the ROI of colleges across the country.

Job Moves

Lexi Barrett, JFF’s associate vice president of policy, is joining the Biden administration as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. Barrett worked on the Biden-Harris transition team. She previously was a policy director at New Profit and a senior policy advisor in the Obama administration’s White House.

Matt Sigelman, the CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, is stepping down after 19 years leading the labor market data firm, which recently merged with Emsi. Sigelman will become the board chairman of Emsi Burning Glass, and will lead the forthcoming Burning Glass Institute, a nonprofit that will advance research and practice on mobility, opportunity, and equity through skills.

Thanks for reading. Catch you next week. (Sign up here to get this newsletter.)

A veteran higher education journalist and analyst, Paul focuses on the connections between education and the American workforce.