A primary mission of the California Community Colleges is “to advance California’s economic growth and global competitiveness through education, training, and services that contribute to continuous workforce improvement.” To realize the economic and workforce development aspect of their mission, the California Community Colleges cultivate long-term partnerships with employers and industry organizations, which helps them gain a thorough understanding of businesses’ most pressing workplace skills requirements. The colleges address those requirements by developing the relevant academic degree programs and curriculum. In addition to the academic programs, the colleges help meet businesses’ immediate needs by providing—through the employee training division—professional development and customized employee training programs that upskill their workforce. It is the role of staff within these divisions that helps the college establish a dynamic presence within the business community; they acts as front-line players who gather industry intelligence and have a crucial role in keeping the entire college, including the academic programs, apprised of the latest industry trends and advances. Because of the community colleges’ collaboration with industry, they can develop and deliver the urgently needed employee training programs in areas such as advanced manufacturing, customer service, leadership development, and project management, among many others.
“The range of programs and services of community colleges put colleges at the center of their communities by providing an engine for economic and community development. The range of offerings from short-term skills and adult basic education/ESL to high-demand workforce programs and transfer programs fuels the development both of individuals and the community at large.” Educational Consultant Diane K. Troyer, Ph.D
To follow, we highlight just a few of the programs provided by the California Community Colleges that are meeting the workforce training needs of businesses.
Good customer service – both internal and external – is critical to a business’ success, making this topic among the most in-demand with employers.
Merced College is just one college whose Employee Training divisions 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 College business Professor Jonae Pistoresi, the academy offers 10 courses, some of which are offered online.
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,
From Microsoft Office basics to Advanced Excel Spreadsheet classes, the Business and Computer Skills training classes offered the Training Resource Center at College of the Sequoias upskill employees at all levels of an organizations.
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.
The Kern County Community College District offers training in Continuous Improvement that help employers reach their efficiency goals. David Teasdale, executive director for Kern’s Performance Improvement Institute 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.
The UpSkill California consortium is composed of more than 30 California Community Colleges that deliver customized workforce training and workplace education via Workforce Training & Development Centers (WTDC). The Centers receive support from the Employment Training Panel (ETP)—a state agency that provides funding to employers to assist in upgrading the skills of their workers through training. ETP funding helps off-set the costs of job skills training necessary to maintain high-performance workplaces.
To help businesses manage and administer the complexities of ETP contracts, several of our college members are designated as Multiple Employment Contract (MEC) holders. Those colleges also assist other consortium members in procuring ETP contracts for their clients, thus expanding the geographic area served by ETP. Colleges that are MECs are identified in the list below. Non-designated colleges subcontract with MEC colleges to procure ETP funding for their clients.
Find the Workforce Training & Development Center in your region.