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Business and Workforce 

Key to economic growth today all over the world, including in regions outside Georgia’s main cities, is an educated workforce knowledgeable about new methods in their chosen professions, adaptable to changes, with sufficient practical experience to add new skills on-the job and able to access new skills though additional education and training as their job assignments change. 

The Role of CCID Colleges in Workforce Development

Workforce development is supported in the U.S. by the national Department of Education in Washington, DC where it is given strong support by both major political parties as a national priority. Most recently, President Obama has repeated stressed that he sees the role of community colleges as critical for the country’s workforce development needs. Regionally-based public higher education institutions on the community – and technical – college model are, the president has stated, the engine which will drive the national economy in the 21st century.  The community college serves ordinary people to progress beyond their current situation in life through a focus on three major components:  university transfer, career programs, and continuing education. 

Because of the experience of its member colleges, Community Colleges for International Development, Inc. (CCID) can offer workforce development tools and expertise to countries around the world to help improve living standards and raise productivity levels. As a former Minister of Education in the Republic of Guyana has stated, “In my country, inculcation of technical, vocational and entrepreneurial skills is very important, not only to make young people employable, but to enable them to set themselves up in small businesses…CCID has helped to broaden our vision of education in a way that you may not be able to appreciate.” 

Business-focused education via business advisory committees

Active business committees advise program officials for each vocational and higher professional education specialty. These business partners assist in business needs investigations and actively participate in the governance of the higher professional education programs’ practice and internship activities. Vocational education programs in agricultural industries and construction have also been organized following the same approach, which is modeled after the role of local business in the design and administration of programs administered by community and technical colleges in the U.S. Such a program can also quickly respond to government programs to re-train employees who are displaced if companies fail or move out of the region. Close relations among business, government, school, and other community stakeholders can also allow lead to joint efforts for regional economic development planning and programs designed to attract new businesses. 

Training programs for business partners

All of the U.S. community colleges offer customized training programs for local businesses. For example, some of Eastern Iowa Community College District’s programs (www.eicc.edu/business/) can be accessed while the student is working and many increasingly offer a combination of on-line instruction supplemented by practical work in a lab or on-campus center with modern machinery that is used in local industry. The student can start with a package of curriculum materials including video tapes, CD-ROM’s, internet, textbooks, and other written materials and finish each section by working in close supervision with an instructor to get needed skills at the college’s Blong Technology Center.

Other partner colleges, including Moraine Valley (www.morainevalley.edu/WDCS), also customize training for businesses which are seeking delivery of subjects such as Lean Office, Lean Manufacturing, Customer Service, Supervisor Training, Effective Communication, etc. for their managers, supervisors, and other employees. Moraine Valley’s Workforce Development and Community Services is ready to advise ways that comparable topics can be offered to Georgian companies according to their workforce needs to increase competitiveness and customer satisfaction. 

Extension and outreach

Our experience to date shows that the model by which universities in the U.S., such as Iowa State University, provide technical support and expertise to businesses, families, youth, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations in their states by “extending” and adapting innovations made by university researchers to problems which people experience in their communities can have great applicability to economic growth in Georgia’s regions. Businesses in the Shida Kartli region, for example, don’t just need people who can be hired by companies to fill jobs as construction managers, hotel and hospitality marketers, or agribusiness company managers. 

They also need to be able to access expertise after their companies have started to function. Accordingly, the partnership seeks continuing assistance from partners and funders about how to tailor and institutionalize a public or private outreach entity to serve business and economic development needs in each of Georgia’s regions. More about Iowa State University Extension can be found at www.extension.iastate.edu, including helping Iowa companies learn new ways to market their products and services, streamline their manufacturing processes, identify new business locations, etc. 

Electronic Databases & Curriculum Materials

Examination of the ISU Extension website already mentioned shows many ways that higher professional education and vocational education centers can provide information to business and other local stakeholders around Georgia. These include electronic databases described on the Extension website that interested citizens can access at a computer center (if the person does not have a computer and internet connection at home or his/her place of business), e.g., the Beginning Farmer Center, the Agricultural Marketing Research Center, and the Value-Added Agriculture Program. 

We also make electronic versions of all curriculum materials for our professional and higher professional education programs and will do the same for life-long learning programs to be offered in the future. ISU and Extension officials who have already contributed to the partnership’s work in Georgia are confident that programs such as those above or AgMarketing Research Center (http://www.agmrc.org/) and agro–environmental programs of ISU’s Leopold Center (www.leopold.iastate.edu) can be adapted by Georgian experts to the different environment of education and business development in Georgia

Regional Workforce Development

As indicated above, regional workforce development initiatives need support from public–private partnerships including business, local government, educational institutions, and civil society. It is also important to get technical information about broad workforce trends and, at the micro level, information about the specific needs of local employers, e.g., what jobs they expect to fill in the next 2-3 years, etc. The solution for Waukesha County Technical College (www.wctc.edu), situated in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or Moraine Valley Community College just outside of the city limits of Chicago, Illinois, will be different from colleges operating in Adjara, Tbilisi, or Kutaisi

Waukesha has a Small Business Center, a Corporate and Community Training Center, a Global Education and Trade Center, and hosts a Workforce Development Center (http://www.wfdc.org/) on campus as well. The WDC on the WCTC campus is one of three serving the same local area as the College does. Its mission, according to the website, is to be a one-stop shop for jobseekers – both those graduating from WCTC and people displaced from their jobs in the community – and also offer services to employers.