Minneapolis, Minn., April 10, 2019 — Dr. Sharon Pierce, president of Minneapolis College, joined more than 30 business and community college leaders from 12 states in Washington D.C. last week to speak with members of Congress and their staff, urging them to modernize the nation’s higher education system by:
- Making Pell grants available to high-quality, short-term training programs that prepare workers for in-demand jobs.
- Making transparent data available so the public can see which education and training programs are preparing prospective employees to meet the needs of their industry.
- Investing in partnerships between businesses and community colleges to provide high-quality training for workers.
- Helping workers complete their training programs by offering child care, career counseling, and transportation assistance.
“These solutions can deliver real results for community colleges and local businesses by expanding economic opportunities for our students,” said Pierce.
The discussions highlighted the ways businesses and educators have partnered to address the skills gap in the community and how a modernized Higher Education Act can help continue this work. The business and community leaders urged congressional members to support the JOBS Act to create greater access to skills education and training for students and job-seekers to fulfill demand for the region’s jobs.
Orlando Flores, president of the Minneapolis College Foundation Board, accompanied Pierce. “I am proud to have represented the area’s workforce needs in this important discussion,” said Flores. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of small and mid-sized business leaders say it’s difficult to find and hire skilled workers, according to the Business Leaders United for Workforce Partnerships (BLU). Community and technical colleges play a critical role in ensuring workers and employers have the skills to succeed on the job and in their career. Flores continued, “The success of our community college and local employers relies on support at the federal level.” Federal education policies need restructuring to support partnerships between businesses and community colleges so they can help those who want and need additional training to take the next step in their careers.
“Like many other colleges, we are already working closely with local businesses to offer training programs that give people the in-demand skills they need to get hired in high-demand positions,” Pierce continued, “We need our lawmakers in Washington to also work together to ensure federal policies are structured to support our institutions and the businesses we serve.”
Minneapolis Community and Technical College is a member of the Minnesota State Colleges & Universities system and offers students more than 100 liberal arts, career and technical programs designed to prepare them for good jobs in high-demand professions or to transfer to a four‐year college or university. Located in the heart of downtown Minneapolis, more than 10,000 students enroll annually in credit and non-credit programs. The College’s Foundation provides scholarships and emergency assistance awards to highly motivated, low-income students. Without this support, most of these students would be unable to pursue their academic dreams. For additional information, please visit Minneapolis.edu.