Best Practices
May 29, 2012

Aligning Education Delivery with Business Needs

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Aligning education delivery with business needs is one of our country’s most pressing imperatives if we are to minimize the increasing skills gap. The Center for Economic Growth (CEG) in Albany, New York, has answered the call to an ever-increasing need for high-tech skills to match the burgeoning migration of technology industries to the Tech Valley region. In 2009, CEG developed the Workforce Development & 21st Century Education Initiative, recognizing the need to create a mutually beneficial relationship for potential employees and employers alike. According to CEG President F. Michael Tucker, "Regional economic development organizations like CEG are well-positioned to be facilitators and aggregators of workforce-related initiatives, and are unique in their ability to truly bring the education and business communities together on these issues."

CEG’s Initiative is composed of two parallel tracks that connect its regional citizens—the Workforce Track and Education Track. CEG’s Workforce Track is comprised of several programs that target the underemployed and unemployed to assist with finding employment or acquiring supplementary skills. One component of this track is CEG’s efforts to publicize the industry-cluster areas that are experiencing employment growth. Additionally, CEG is working with the City of Albany, the Albany Housing Authority, the Trinity Alliance of the Capital Region, and other partners to develop the planned Capital South Campus Center. The Campus Center will be situated as a training, educational, and community gathering space, connecting students to the educational opportunities and technological advances that are driving prosperity in the Capital District.

The Education Track offers numerous programs with the intention of securing a pipeline of skilled regional employees for tomorrow’s workforce, targeting the whole education gamut of kindergarten through postsecondary education. CEG is currently collaborating with GLOBALFOUNDRIES, the Capital Region’s newest large-scale employer, to develop a long-term supply of skilled workers by developing partnerships with schools, colleges and universities, government agencies, and businesses. “Tech Valley Connection for Education & Jobs” will create a 13-county regional laboratory to trial the most innovative practices in education and workforce development. As part of the groundwork for this Initiative, CEG conducted a survey of educators and administrators throughout the Capital Region in July 2011 to gauge current, planned, and desired programs aligned with the development of a 21st-century workforce and emerging technologies.

In related work, CEG co-hosted a Community College Day event with GLOBALFOUNDRIES in June 2011 where 72 representatives from 17 community colleges discussed ways to provide a path for current and future students and alumni to fill technician and maintenance jobs at the company.

CEG’s efforts are of the type that can easily be replicated across the nation and an example for business communities to follow. In 2011 alone, as part of a grant from the region's Workforce Investment Boards, CEG hosted and participated in over 75 meetings and events that increased awareness of the technical career issues and generated interest in increasing the number of students and under/unemployed adults pursuing technical careers in the region. By recognizing regional issues and creating solutions, engaging crucial partners, and augmenting communication efforts with the local community, CEG has become a go-to source for business and education.

For more information on CEG and their Workforce Development & 21st Century Education Initiative, visit their website.

This article appears in ICW's May 2012 newsletter.