Aug 25, 2021
How to Connect With Your Local Community or Technical College
A recent report by Opportunity America recommends that community colleges should focus more on workforce development to help displaced workers and others secure available jobs, especially due to the pandemic. The report also calls for community colleges to be held accountable for job placement and suggests that they be reimagined as the pandemic is likely to hasten changes in the workplace. Companies can efficiently connect with their local community college to find good candidates for a variety of positions, including those related to energy efficiency, by following the steps outlined in the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center's community college toolkit.
By: Macie Melendez
A recent report calls on community colleges to focus more on workforce development to help displaced workers and others secure available jobs, especially as Americans have lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
“The Indispensable Institution,” a 118-page report by Opportunity America, a Washington-based nonprofit that promotes economic mobility, says community college should be “reimagined” as the pandemic is likely to hasten changes in the workplace. It also says that “community colleges should accept and champion that they are the nation’s primary provider of job-focused education and training.”
One recommendation in the report is that community colleges be held accountable for job placement. “Unlike traditional academic educators for whom the finish line is graduation, community colleges should be held accountable for what happens after learners leave the college. The most important metric by which they should be judged is not completion but employment—high-value employment that results in upward mobility,” it states.
Preparing the next generation for work in our industry specifically is the Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center. The SEED Center aims to advance sustainability and clean technology education programs at colleges by sharing innovative practices to help college administrators, faculty, and staff build the green economy. And as they point out in their community college Toolkit, the fact of the matter is, regardless of where you live, there’s a technical or community college near you. But did you know that community colleges can provide energy efficiency professionals with students educated in HVAC, energy efficiency, and even renewable energy technologies?
Companies often find good candidates to hire in a wide variety of positions, including but not limited to sales, installation and troubleshooting, and managers for a variety of functions that will help your company grow and be more profitable. Knowing how to efficiently connect with your local college will save you time and money.
To connect with your local community college, here are some steps to take from the SEED Center:
- Search for community and technical colleges near you. Call the main number and ask for the direct numbers for:
- The Dean of HVAC and Construction; and/or
- The College Job Placement office.
- For job openings that you want to fill:
- Contact the College Job Placement office and tell them you have a posting. They will tell you how to get it posted on their site. Ask for the final link so you can share it with others.
- Call the Dean and tell him/her you have a job posting to share with relevant faculty. Ask if the college has an HVAC, Construction, and/or Energy program and ask for the contact information (email and phone) of the faculty/instructors who teach the courses. You can then email them the link to the posting and follow up with a phone call. Get to know the faculty person a bit; by making a connection, they will help you connect to the most interested students. Follow up with reminder emails and thank them when they send you candidates.
- To provide input into the curricula and the course offerings, so the students will have skills relevant to your needs:
- Ask the Dean how you can provide input. If you have time, offer to sit on an existing program’s Advisory Committee. If you don’t have time for that, say you have limited time but still want to provide input on what training you’d like to see for the students. If the college is not offering courses that you would like to see, mention this to the Dean and ask how you can help make this happen.
- Discuss with the instructor(s) what you would like to see in the curricula (and mention you’d be interested in hiring students more if they had that knowledge and skills). Sometimes you can even donate equipment to the college, so students come out already familiar with how to install and/or troubleshoot what you sell.
- To receive updated training for your existing employees:
- Call the main number and ask for the Workforce Development Department. Explain to them the kind of training you need and ask if they can customize it for you. Ask about content, timing, and fees and see if there is a fit.
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