Types of Training Programs for Employees – Through Contract Education


What is Contract Education?

Is the term “Contract Education” new to you? If so, you are about to be introduced to a world of employee training that is affordable, customizable and effective. Simply put, Contract Education is when a public or private entity contracts with a California community college to provide instruction or services, or both, to its employees. There are many types of contract education training programs for employees, and pre-pandemic, the training was delivered in person at the business or at the community college.

Today, the state’s  Contract Education units (approximately 40-45) have shifted mostly to virtual employee training or are in the process. In this blog, we highlight a few of the more popular Contract Education training topics.

Popular Contract Education Employee Training Topics

Customer Service Skills

Good customer service – both internal and external – is critical to a business’ success, making this topic among the most popular with employers.

Merced College is just one college whose Contract Education unit offers customer service skills training. The college operates the award-winning Customer Service Academy, which started at the college 20 years ago and has since expanded to other community colleges across the state.

Started by Merced business Professor Jonae Pistoresi, the academy offers 10 courses, which have moved online during the pandemic:

  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Team Building
  • Values and Ethics
  • Stress Management
  • Time Management
  • Conflict Management
  • Attitude
  • Foundations of Well-being in the Workplace
  • Unconscious Bias Reduction in the Workplace and Community

Each course is eight hours of instruction. Altogether, the 10 asynchronous courses total about 80 hours of instruction that can be completed at the employees’ pace. Employees who complete all of the courses receive a certificate. However, employers also may pick and choose which courses they want their employees to take.

“That’s the beautiful thing about this curriculum – it can be tailored to any type of program,” Pistoresi said.

The academy has provided training for health organizations, food processors, car dealerships, financial institutions, the county and school districts, among others. One full-time faculty member and four adjunct faculty members teach at the academy.

Employers looking for workforce training in customer service skills can arrange for academy training through Merced’s Business Resource Center, or you can contact your local community college’s Contract Education department to learn more about their customer service skills trainings.

Business & Computer Skills

Business and computer skills courses are also a popular Contract Education choice for employers. The Training Resource Center at College of the Sequoias is one of the many Contract Education units that provides business skills training for local employers, among the college’s numerous Contract Education offerings.

For several years now, the center has provided workplace training for employees at Kings County’s Human Services Agency, providing instruction in business writing, communication skills, Excel (intermediate and advanced) and One Note.

“Microsoft Excel – basic, intermediate and advanced – has truly helped our staff,” said Elaine Tinajero, staff support specialist for the Human Services Agency, which has about 400 employees. “It’s broadened their skill level. It’s paid off for us.”

Among agency staff who have been trained are employment-training workers, eligibility workers, office assistants and department specialists.

Jay Wood, the agency’s staff support manager, said Laurel Garver, specialist for the Training Resource Center, and her team have been nimble in their response to the agency’s needs.

“They are able to adjust to some of our demands,” Wood said. “Things change for us, and they aren’t selling us a one-size-fits-all. They’re tailoring it and working with us.”

Garver said training is delivered by the college’s adjunct faculty and other subject-matter experts and is customized to meet employers’ schedules, such as providing training on evenings and weekends.

Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement courses are another type of workplace training that contract education units offer, to help employers reach their efficiency goals. The Kern County Community College District is just one of the contract education units in California that offer this type of training.

David Teasdale, executive director for Kern’s Performance Improvement Institute, which offers customized corporate training, recalls a continuous improvement training designed specifically for mechanics at a local food manufacturer. In trying to repair equipment, as part of their troubleshooting process, the mechanics had a history of guessing at a problem and replacing part after part until they identified the issue – sometimes many incorrect parts later. Teasdale’s team at the institute was hired to help the company become more efficient in this area by designing a training, in consultation with the company and maintenance supervisors, that used simulations to teach the mechanics root-cause analysis.

The qualitative feedback was positive, Teasdale said, and resulted in repeat work for the institute.

Additionally, Teasdale said continuous improvement training often qualifies for funding from the state’s Employment Training Panel, which means employers could qualify for reimbursement of a portion of their employee training costs.

Other popular Contract Education employee training topics include*:

  • Management, supervisory and leadership skills
  • Manufacturing skills
  • Trades (electrical, carpentry, plumbing, HVAC and welding)
  • Environmental health and safety
  • Healthcare skills
  • Logistics/warehouse skills
  • Public safety
  • Information technology
  • Energy/green
  • Workplace English/math

*Ordered based on percentages of colleges offering, from highest to lowest.

Interested in Contract Education Services?

Connect with a contract education unit in your area to find out how they can help meet your business goals through affordable customized workforce training.