USA Funds® awarded $10,000 grants to six colleges and universities that developed “big ideas” during the 2014 Symposium, for enhancing their students’ preparedness for the global workforce.
The symposium brought together executives and administrators from an invited group of 40 postsecondary institutions. The theme of the event was “Giving Your Students an Edge in the Global Workforce.”
During the symposium, teams from each institution developed an action plan for increasing their institution’s commitment to preparing students for the global workforce.
The grant-recipient institutions and their proposals include:
- Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Lexington, Ky. Establish the position of “completion coach” to help students develop and pursue an individualized two-year transfer success plan to map out their class schedules. The initiative aims to increase degree completion and transfer rates.
- Cochise College, Douglas, Ariz. Integrate relevant math skills in a workforce development program designed to prepare students for employment in the avionics industry. The proposal will help more students meet prerequisites for and complete the program.
- College of the Menominee Nation, Keshena/Green Bay, Wis. Develop ongoing partnerships with regional employers to assess the skills graduates need for employment, future job openings, and how graduates perform once they enter the workforce. Incorporate employer feedback into the campus culture and programs. The proposal would help the college to have higher job placement rates for its students.
- Hinds Community College, Jackson, Miss. Intentionally design a process to connect students with workforce opportunities related to their chosen fields of study. The initiative will involve a review of relevant data, partnerships with local employers, tracking student placements and increased enrollment in various career and technical education areas.
- Mohave Community College, Kingman, Ariz. Infuse soft skills into the curriculum to empower students and ensure their employability. The proposal includes college-wide professional development, mentoring in career planning, and a train-the-trainer mode of disseminating the initiative across all four of the college’s campuses.
- Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Va. Increase students’ disposition to use critical thinking skills in their academic and personal lives and thereby enhance their preparation for the workforce. The proposal would allow groups of students to develop a team-structured capstone project on critical thinking and present their results in an undergraduate competition.
In addition to developing action plans, attendees at the symposium heard presentations on issues related to improving the preparation of today’s college graduates for the workforce. The speakers included:
- Anthony Carnevale, director and research professor, Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, on “The College Pay-Off for Students and Their Families.”
- Lori Gaskin, president, Santa Barbara Community College, and Steven VanAusdle, president, Walla Walla Community College, the 2013 co-winners of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, on “The President’s Role in Growing the Economy and Creating Tomorrow’s Jobs.”
- Michael Sutton, associate professor, Westminster College, on “Integrating 21st Century Skills Across the Curriculum.”
- Strategic planning and organizational consultant Patrick Sanaghan on “Global Leadership Begins With a Global Mindset.”
- Mary Evans Sias, president, Kentucky State University, on “Making Global Awareness a Priority on Your Campus.”
Presentations from the symposium are available from the USA Funds website.