Regional Councils and Community Colleges Partnering on Pathways

Posted by Thao Nelson - On November 28, 2010 (EST)

Editor's Note:  Todd Cohen is our guest blogger from Sustainability Initiatives, American Association of Community Colleges.

Across the country, in an effort to better prepare workers for quality jobs in the green economy, unique partnerships are forming between community colleges and regional councils. In southeast Arizona, a two-year U.S. Department of Labor Pathways Out of Poverty grant being managed by the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) is being used to strengthen this partnership most notably around soft skills training for an array of renewable energy and energy efficiency occupations.

The SouthEastern Arizona Government’s Association (SEAGO) region has been hit hard by the current recession with unemployment rates as high as 16% in many parts of their service area. SEAGO used its strong training partnership with Cochise College, and its strong satellite campuses throughout the region,  to develop flexible and responsive training programs aligned to the needs of the Pathways program.

SEAGO Pathways staff worked directly with the College’s Center for Lifelong Learning to develop a two day soft skills workshop that has become mandatory for all SEAGO Pathways enrollees. The workshop provides one full day of job readiness training and one day of computer training where participants produce a resume of their experience. In addition to providing the participants with needed career skills, the mandatory requirement allows SEAGO to assure a potential employer that a Pathways applicant can perform basic tasks in serving customers appropriately in a business environment. To date, over one hundred individuals have taken the workshop, and more are planned for the coming months. Going forward, the Center will continue to offer trainings in Hazardous Materials Handling and Heavy Equipment Operation, and is exploring the possibility of offering solar training in the near future in response to specific industry demand within the region.

Because some applicants come into the program lacking a GED, SEAGO also engaged the Cochise College Adult Education Department to develop classes specifically for Pathways participants. This is creating a sense of camaraderie among the enrollees and allows the Pathways GED classes to provide another opportunity for learning about the green career trainings they will receive upon graduation. Instructors weave green vocabulary into lessons by including commonly used renewable energy and green building industry terms into word lists. They also include word problems with “green” scenarios and job site math to expose enrollees to as much relevant information as possible about their new career pathway.

 “The partnerships the program has built have been terrific,” said Randy Heiss, SEAGO’s Executive Director. “Not only has the program served to address the needs of Pathways participants, this partnership has provided the College the opportunity to present trainings that it might not otherwise have been able to offer.”

Curriculum and pathways that emerge from this initiative will be disseminated through various channels including the American Association of Community College’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development (SEED) Center which was launched in October. Please visit for more information.

About this Initiative

The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC), in partnership with ICF Macro and Monster Worldwide, received a two-year ARRA funded Pathways Out of Poverty grant from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to develop job training and placement strategies for green jobs in four U.S. regions, in Arizona, Texas and Ohio.

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Modified On : November 28, 2010
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