Since June, nearly 100 students throughout the South Central Coast have received job placements as a result of the region’s Guided Pathways pillar four (ensure learning) approach to work-based learning and employer engagement.
Paula Hodge, ICT-DM Regional Director in the South Central Coast Region, highlighted these successes in a presentation at the California Community Colleges Association for Occupational Education (CCCAOE) fall virtual conference. She was joined by Harriet Happel, Dean of Career Education & Integrative Learning at College of the Canyons, and Alma Miranda, Career Readiness Specialist, Allan Hancock College.
By leveraging the 19-20 regional Strong Workforce Program (SWP) funds, the project launched earlier this year and is completely operational within the South Central Coast Region, in spite of the pandemic!
“This project was driven by conversations we had throughout the region with employers,” Hodge said. “They informed us that what they desired was a portal, one way regionally to access workforce-ready talent.” While colleges maintain and build employer relationships, work-based learning candidates have regional opportunities to ensure learning and career placement.
The new employer portal, Career Connect powered by Jobspeaker, now serves as that platform for connecting students and employers across the region. Students access career and professional development content from LinkedIn Learning through the Jobspeaker app and have the opportunity to connect directly with employers through the platform.
Like any new initiative, gaining buy-in from faculty, employers, and other stakeholders was crucial to Career Connect’s success. Hodge formed a working group of dedicated representatives from each member college to aid in the design and operations of the portal combined with local career services efforts. Faculty participated in providing feedback on how the changing economy and workforce demand applied to their students. In addition, they are curating LinkedIn Learning content to support their online courses.
“In the region, we have faculty expertise across the various colleges, but it’s not necessarily duplicated,” Hodge said. “Employer demand is across the region, so having the visibility of all the regional programs plus the talents and skillsets of our students identified across the region is a big win, and we needed an application to facilitate that.”
The group also held regional virtual lunch and learn sessions for employers to learn more about Career Connect and what it could offer them. More than 2,000 employers have participated in work-based learning placements, including internships, job shadowing, and other opportunities.
“We wanted to demonstrate to our industry partners that we are making a concerted effort to understand their employment supply gaps and what is the skill demonstration they need our students to communicate in terms of being truly workforce ready,” Happel said.
With so many opportunities available on the platform, concerns about one college taking opportunities from another quickly subsided. Beyond the benefits for employers, colleges also realize cost-savings through partnering with each other on recruitment events, rather than each college holding its own event.
Students also have the ability to create professional profiles through the platform and gain valuable experience interacting with potential employers in a way that meets their needs and lifestyles.
“We feel like we are a bit ahead of the curve in that we are giving our students the skills they need to master the technology to brand and put themselves out there in the marketplace,” Happel said.
To learn more about Jobspeaker visit https://jobspeaker.com/