Helping Businesses Thrive
Linking Workforce Development to Economic Development in the Greater Lansing Region
In my role as Dean of Extended Learning and Professional Studies (ELPS) at Lansing Community College, I have found that we are fortunate to be in an area where there are active and forward-thinking community leaders who recognize the vital role education plays in creating a robust economy. Consequently, the college is often asked to make a significant contribution to workforce and economic development of the region.
In the community college setting, workforce development typically refers to a college’s role in predicting, identifying, responding to and filling labor force gaps. Workforce development used to be associated with short-term training, degrees and certificates. However, today, all career-related activities provided by the college should meet the criteria of developing skilled workers for middle or high wage positions.
As a result, the college strives to continuously update and revise programs to fit the changing job market so that completers can compete in a new economy. The college’s Career and Employment Services Department is a great resource for finding graduates, interns and apprentices to meet labor force needs. Specialized training to upgrade skills of existing employees might happen through individual courses, short-term training, certificates, Community and Continuing Education’s continuing and professional education, or the Business and Community Institute’s customized training.
Additionally, the college supports programs that help potential workers connect with the labor market. The college’s Center for Workforce Transition is an off-campus center located at Capitol Area Michigan Works! The center helps unemployed and underemployed individuals develop the cognitive and affective skills needed to find employment. The JET One Stop Center helps the same population from a Main Campus facility with basic skills and services. The college partners with most other economic and workforce development agencies in the region.
Creating Successful New Businesses
Developing the workforce is only one part of the equation needed to maintain a robust and viable economic region. In addition to helping the workforce develop timely and up-to-date skills, the college strives to help businesses thrive by providing resources, training and programs to create local companies. Start-ups and new businesses are encouraged through workshops, training and FastTrac programs designed to encourage entrepreneurial behavior. A key component is assisting start-ups to find the capital needed to be successful. Many local small businesses have benefitted from several of the programs offered through the college’s partnership with Small Business Technology and Development Center.
In addition, a community college can move quickly when there is a need to support local businesses. For example, last year, when a new business would only move to the Lansing area if it could find appropriately trained health care workers, LCC developed a plan for training new workers. The ELPS Division aims for a two-week, or sooner, turn-around time for new curricula.
Another example of the college contributing to local economic development was a response to the Michigan’s New Job Training Partnership Act. This state program provided companies a tax incentive to bring new jobs to the area. By providing training for a large local manufacturer, the college helped offset the costs of bringing hundreds of new jobs to the area. Helping large, long-standing businesses, local small businesses and would-be business owners to compete, has a major, quantifiable economic impact on the communities we serve.
Student Success Leads to Community Success
Workforce development and economic development are tightly coupled to the other activities in the college in ways that are difficult to disconnect. If a student is not prepared with basic skills in reading, writing, math, communications, technology, as well as self-governance, problem-solving, work ethic and social interaction, he or she is unlikely to become a successful employee. And, unless we help learners meet the challenges of a complex, inter-woven and globally connected world, often beyond the basics through continuing education and advanced degrees, the college is unlikely to be perceived as successful. The reason we focus on student success is that the success of our students is the success of the local economy and the success of the region.
Providing training, degrees, certificates, free workshops, business counseling, continuing education and access to advanced degrees are among the many ways the college helps businesses and the local economy thrive. For more information about how to connect to the colleges resources for business, visit our new website: www.lcc.edu/yourbusiness.
Dr. Morciglio is the Dean of Extended Learning and Professional Studies at Lansing Community College where she works with educational and professional programs. These include workforce development, community partnerships, lifelong education, off-campus programming, training for businesses, small business and entrepreneurial programs, and a University Center.