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Online Course: Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways

Update! The Adult Career Pathways online courses are now available on LINCS!

LINCS is adding the opportunity for professional development for its members in the form of a series of optional online courses developed by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s initiative Adult Career Pathways. These online courses are self-paced, freely available, and accessible 24 hours a day through the LINCS Learning Portal. The courses will enable users to work at their own pace, at a time that is most convenient to them. 

 

Online Course: Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways

Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways helps adult education instructors and program administrators understand how to identify, engage, and sustain engagement of appropriate employers in the development of career pathways programs.  The course is self-paced and features three modules: (1) Creating a Business-Education Partnership; (2) Building Business Engagement; and (3) Sustaining Business Engagement. The modules link to this discussion thread (Title: Online Course: Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways) within the LINCS Community Career Pathways group to provide opportunities for you to discuss how to apply the course information in your teaching with your colleagues from around the country.

Use this discussion thread to post your responses to questions below from the online course, Engaging Employers in Adult Career Pathways. Please share your comments to any of the following questions, or post a general comment or feedback on the course.

  • Introduce yourself.
  • In what ways can you or have you sustained employer engagement in ACP programs?
  • Depending on the specific business and industries in your community, region, and state, employer partners may have additional expectations of education partners. Discuss the employers in your area and anticipate their expectations of your ACP program.
  • How will you apply your newly acquired knowledge in engaging employers to enhance ACP programs and systems?

This online course was developed under the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Vocational and Adult Education’s Designing Instruction for Career Pathways initiative under Contract No. ED-CFO-10-A-0072/0001, which developed and delivered trainings and online courses to adult education providers in order to increase the quality and quantity of adult career pathways programs.

The new LINCS Learning Portal offers adult educators free online professional development courses from a variety of OVAE initiatives. Join today at: https://courses.lincs.ed.gov.

Comments

Lenore Balliro's picture

Hello,

My name is Lenore Balliro. I've been doing adult basic education work for about 30 years with substantial experience in workplace learning. Over the years, Massachusetts has seen a big shift from manufacturing to service industry jobs. Hospitals and clinics have been increasingly interested in onsite workplace learning programs that can connect to career ladders. The pressure to improve patient satisfaction in hospital settings has increased the motivation for some sites to provide language and literacy classes in partnership with community based learning centers. Clarifying the goals of each learning cycle, and documenting progress toward those goals, seems to be the most important way to establish buy-in and sustain engagement.

Toya L.'s picture

Thank you for sharing your experiences, Lenore. Can you provide any advise for approaching an employer for the first time without the benefit of an advisory committee? 

Carolyn Bell's picture

Hello,

My name is Carolyn Bell.  I am a Lead Instructor for Logan County Adult Education Center in Russellville, Ky. I have teaching at this center for 2 years  

Carolyn Bell's picture

The pressure to teach according to Common Core Standards to aid in achieving GED and College entrance exams and career readiness skills has increased the motivation for some to develop a working curriculum to aid in teaching these adult learners to achieve their education goals.  Clarifying the goals of each learning cycle, and documenting progress toward those goals, seems to be the most important way to establish buy-in and sustain engagement.

Michelle's picture

I have found that if you identify for participants the workplace skills they gain while studying for the GED, the buy-in rate increases. I have set-up my GED training program to include a General Customer Service Certificate that is earned at the same time. Typing is necessary for the online test, as well as general computer skills. These translate well into needed workplace skills. We use the KeyTrain program preparation for a National Career Readiness certificate in the CS Certificate.  I have found this to translate well as foundational preparation for the Common Core based GED. Specifically, if students can perform at level 4-5 (preferably 5) with Reading for Information, Locating Information and Applied Mathematics - they have the skills to find and use information to answer GED questions. At the same time, scoring in this range should qualify them to gain at minimum a Silver Certification.

Carolyn Bell's picture

The success of a program like this is when the program expectation of all participants are well defined from the initial onset of the program. It is also important that all parties involved have the same expectations of the outcomes planned for the future.  It is very important that the educators who will be involved in the education process incorporate foundation knowledge, life application components as well as soft skill application for future use in the careet path being pursued by the learner. 

Toya L.'s picture

I have been doing volunteer ESL work for more than 10 years now. Our local ACP is committed to enhancing the conversational English skills of immigrants as they prepare to sit for the American Civics test. As we align our program to address local labor demands, we will continually take the "pulse" of our new placements and new interns to ensure they complete our program with the skills needed to thrive in their incumbent positions.

Toya L.'s picture

It is not a hard sell to employers that their business goals will be met and that their talent pipeline will be strengthened when they enter into our local ACP program. Most of them even see the value to the community and the win-win-win relationship right out of the box. But getting them to commit and jump in with both feet is a bit more challenging.

Micaela Allison-Shropshire's picture

Adult Career Pathways is similar to other career education programs, BUT ACP seems to streamline a combination of other programs. I believe this will make ACP a more viable partnerships with employers and employees.

velkerdiane's picture

Frequently, my students are interested in advancing to a new job or career. They enlist my help with the process. I'm hoping to learn new skills and avenues to assist my students meet these goals.

Lindsey Wade's picture

Hello,

I am Employment Case Manager and Adult Career Pathways Instructor for Howard Area Community Center. I have been teaching job-readiness workshops for approximately 4 years to individuals formerly incarcerated and to individuals who've been unemployed for an extended amount of time. We've recently added a TDL curriculum to our training, and I'm hoping to learn how to market it to local employers. 

I look forward to learning from everyone, and am happy to offer advice!

-Lindsey

Lindsey Wade's picture

Thinking of how to engage employers in ACP programs, I realized that we already have somewhat of an advisory team already--but we call it something else! We currently have an advisory council that meets once a month to discuss how we deliver and how we can improve social services, including workforce opportunities, to the formerly incarcerated. We occasionally invite potential employers, but we may be successful in strengthening employer relationships if we directly ask them to contribute to the conversation of what they're missing from their company's workforce, and then match our training to the needs! I'd like to figure out how we can get past the barrier of the amount of staffing required to regularly change our curriculum to meet employer needs and demands, and the barrier of finding local employers who will hire individuals with criminal backgrounds. 

Karen Wolters's picture

Hello, 

My name is Karen Wolters, I coordinate Mankato Area Adult Basic Education, a mid-sized ABE Program in southcentral Minnesota. I'm participating in a cohort (MN sponsored professional development) where we are developing our adult career pathway programming.  I have 24 years experience in ABE, I really enjoy working in partnership with our workforce and college partners in the local area.  I'm going to take this online course as part of the cohort and hope to learn more about employer engagement.  At this time we engage employers in different ways, and I'm always looking to learn new strategies and what others are doing that is successful.

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Karen,

Thanks for sharing a little bit about your background with us.  I'm glad to hear that you've got a cohort of other ABE folks that you're working with on this building more employer engagement.  Can you tell us some of what you're doing now that you're finding works, or something that you thought would work, but isn't working the way you'd thought it might?

I look forward to hearing from, and learning with you and your cohort.

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Alison Wilcox's picture

Hello,

My name is Alison Wilcox, and I help to coordinate our Career Pathways program at Metro South ABE in Bloomington, MN. Presently,  three out of seven career pathways classes focus on healthcare since many of our students are interested in this field and there are many local healthcare employers in the area.  We are in the beginning stages of building stronger employer partnerships now. Our local workforce center is working with us to bring in more healthcare employers to the table. This is done through open public healthcare employer panels/speakers and networking events in which our students are also invited to attend. With the help of the workforce center, we are also starting to develop an employer advisory committee that will help us to directly partner better with local employers. I look forward to learning more about ACP and Employer Engagement from this platform! 

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Alison,

Thanks for sharing about your background with us, and the steps you're taking to build more employer engagement.  It's great that you're starting an employer advisory committee.  Would you tell us more about where you are in that process?  What are some of the challenges you're facing, and do you have a formalized partnership, or MOU, with the workforce center towards achieving your shared goals?

I look forward to hearing from you!

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Penny Jahnke's picture

Hello, my name is Penny Jahnke. I am entering my 8th year as the ABE coordinator in Albert Lea, MN.  We are a small but mighty program in southern MN. I am also participating in the Adult Career Pathways Program Development cohort.   We have run para educator training classes.  We are currently looking at starting a Pre-Pre-CNA class.  We have a very good working relationship with our local workforce.  I have learned so much from this course and am looking forward to applying my newly acquired  knowledge.  

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Penny -

Thanks for introducing yourself.  It's great to hear about your success with the para educator program, and plans for your Pre-Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) program.  I wonder how the relationship with your local workforce board might have influenced your decision to focus on the Pre-CNA field, and what opportunities exist in your area for graduates to continue into other allied health pathways after completing this program?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Emily Watts's picture

My name is Emily Watts, and I run an ABE program in the northwestern suburbs of Minneapolis, MN.  We serve 1,000 adults a year in our program; 60 are women, and the average age of our participants is 34.  We have a full slate of programming, from pre-literacy through college prep classes, and nearly 80% of our learners are born outside of the US.  Well over half of our learners speak, read and write English at lower than a 5th grade reading level.  We are excited that Minnesota is starting to recognize the need to offer career pathways for learners at lower academic skill levels.

 

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Emily -

It's great to see such a strong presence from Minnesota ABE folks!  Your program sounds both large and diverse.  With over 80% of your learners being born outside the U.S., and reading at lower than the 5th grade level, I wonder what career pathways your program is creating for this group of learners with lower academic skill levels?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Emily Watts's picture

One thing that we have done to engage employers in the past is to invite them to graduation events for our ACP programs.  They get to hear about the impact of their contributions directly from participants, and get to know a little more about the program - putting faces with names.  Some have had tables at the events, and have even offered onsite interviews! 

Kathleen Moriarty's picture

Hi - My name is Kathleen Moriarty. I supervise a few Adult Basic Education sites that are part of an 8 school district consortium, Metro North ABE. 

The sites that I manage serve about 1500 learners a year. The main learner populations are non-native English language speakers from a variety of countries of origin. As a large, year round site, we offer many levels of English classes, brush up, and GED prep, and college prep.

I am participating in a PD cohort on administering adult career pathway programming through the state of MN. My sites serve lower level learners and I'm excited to start developing some new pathways for these learners. Some areas that we are initially working on include Food Service Careers (ServSafe certification), and Commercial Driver's License bridge programming. 

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Kathleen -

Welcome, and thanks for sharing a little bit about your program, and the career pathways that you're working on for your lower level workers.  I wonder if you can tell me a little about how you selected food service and commercial driver's licensing for your pathways?  Are you working with other partners?  What are some of the initial challenges you may be facing in getting these up and going?

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Tammy Schatz's picture

Greetings from Northern Minnesota!

My name is Tammy Schatz and I am the Program Manager for Moorhead Adult Basic Education.   I have been in the ABE field for over 20 years, first in the classroom and now as a Manager.  Participation in this course will benefit me in my Adult Career Pathway cohort work.

Moorhead ABE serves nearly 500 students per year, most of whom were born outside of the U.S.  Adult Career Pathway programming is a crucial component of our program, as we prepare our students to transition into the workforce.  

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Tammy -

Thanks for introducing yourself, and a little about your program.  I wonder what pathways you're working on for your learners, and what kind of partners you have in this process?  I'm also curious what you see as the biggest changes over your 20 years of working in ABE programs? 

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

Emily Watts's picture

It is critical to be responsive to the changing needs of employers - they may have needed X for a few years, and Y in the next years.  It is important to build in time and funding to support these changes

Laura Malott's picture

My name is Laura Malott.  I am involved in an Adult Career Pathways program in Minnesota.  I am the ABE Coordinator for the Cass Lake-Bena Walker ABE program in northern MN.  We are continuing to build upon our strong employer partnerships with our local employers and college, especially in the gaming industry.  This course will help me identify and strengthen our current partnerships by enhancing and building upon the existing training foundation in food safety and ServSafe certification.

 

Paul Jurmo's picture

I agree with Emily's and Laura's observations above, that (1) providers need time (and funding) to be able to understand and respond to the evolving needs of employers and (2) providers can and should build on previous work they have done with employers.  These are the kinds of guidelines that previous national, state, employer, and union initiatives in worker basic skills and career pathways spelled out in reports, guidebooks, and funding requirements.  At a time of great need for well-prepared and properly-supported workers, we as a field need to continue to grow and build on previous experience and research. To do so, education providers and others should be provided access to useful resource materials and be supported to adapt them in flexible ways to the realities of the workers and employers (and unions) they work with.  LINCS is one piece of a larger national system for professional development, partnership development, policy development, and continuous improvement for our important field.  Paul Jurmo (www.pauljurmo.info)

Michael Cruse's picture

Yes, Paul, these are great points.  We also need more conversation around resources like LINCS's Career Pathways Toolkit and Career Pathways Checklist "to continue to grow and build on previous experience and research".  These living documents are here for stakeholder to use, and provide feedback on, as we work together to develop sustainable career pathways, and the partnerships.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

 

 

 

Michael Cruse's picture

Welcome to another member of the MN cohort! You mention your program's partnerships in the gaming industry.  I'm curious if you're talking about video gaming, or gaming, as in gambling? Either way, these are both unique partners that I'm curious to know more about your work with in developing solid partnerships.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

michaelcruse74@gmail.com

 

 

Ron Fleischmann's picture

Hi everyone.  My name is Ron Fleischmann and I serve as the Adult Career Pathways Program Supervisor for the Mankato Area.  I've only worked for ABE for 4 years but I'm surrounded by some mighty talented and passionate people when it comes to helping others build a more successful future.

As I am housed at South Central College and also serve as an adjunct faculty member there, much of our employer engagement happens in conjunction with our college's business partners.  An example includes the work we do with welding employers.  While we have an Advisory Council that meets twice a year to give us feedback on how prepared our graduates are to meet their employment needs, the members of that council also provide other services.  Most employers offer tours of their facilities.  Many provide in-kind donations of materials or machines.  Some come to our school with their lead welders and spend time in the booth with each student to improve their skills.  Finally, many offer contextualized materials that we modify and present in our bridge courses and welding certificate courses such as blueprint reading.

Keep up the good work folks as we help individuals provide better lives through education and partnerships!

Ron

Michael Cruse's picture

Hi, Ron -

Thanks for sharing your background and experience in building employer partnerships with us.  It sounds like you, and your team, have done a great job in establishing a positive two-way collaboration in your welding program.  I wonder if you can also talk about how you’ve managed for the sustainability of these relationships?  A lot of effort goes into setting up these partnerships, but too many of us also know how easily they can come undone when a key player transitions out of their role.  Do you have any helpful tips that you’ve used - or are planning for in the future - to help ensure that your efforts are embedded into the culture of your, and your business partner’s, organizations?

Thanks again for sharing with us.

Best,

Mike Cruse

Career Pathways Moderator

Michaelcruse74@gmail.com

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