Hello again, NACCE Nation! I hope you had an enjoyable and restful long holiday weekend. Like many of you, I spent a lot of time in my garden, tilling and fertilizing the soil, preparing it for all the wonderful vegetables that will take root there this year. As I planted each small seedling, I couldn't help but think of all the wonderful dishes that will come from garden to table this summer. There's something wonderful about the anticipation that occurs between planting and that first summer harvest.
At the risk of leaning too hard on an over-used metaphor, the work we do in community colleges is much like our work in our gardens, isn't it? We prepare fertile learning opportunities that give future entrepreneurs a place to take root; we spend countless hours nurturing their growth; and then, when they are ready, we bring them from the garden to the community, where they become part of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem, helping sustain the communities we serve.
So this week, here are some "gardening” tips for your programs:
The National Urban League's "Jobs Rebuild America” Campaign: This is a $100 million, five-year effort that includes job training, entrepreneurship support, and small business financing and resources launching in 50 communities across the country through the Urban League affiliate network. If you're not already involved in Jobs Rebuild America in your community, you need to be!
To find out if your local area is part of the initiative, visit http://www.jobsrebuildamerica.org today.
For colleges in communities impacted by Superstorm Sandy: The Small Business Administration's Office of Entrepreneurial Development (OED) announced a funding opportunity for applicants to "develop collaborative Sandy Recovery counseling and training programs to support the recovery and start-up of small business concerns in communities that were physically and economically impacted by Superstorm Sandy
in October 2012 resulting in the loss of jobs or small business instability.” For more details, visit http://www.grants.gov/search/search.do;jsessionid=1hnBRn0K5ydybcy7LX1MjtQ9Kvk3TW0pKG1529y54lTBkpsVn5Lj!1703100315?oppId=230913&mode=VIEW. The application deadline has been extended to June 19th.
And NACCE's good friend Kevin Thompson from the Department of Labor passed along this interesting article as food for thought:
Persistent Skills Gap Hindering Economic Recovery in Cities; Promising Models Found in Norfolk, VA, Charlotte, NC:
Amid a national economic recovery, city officials report a recent and persistent skills gap that may signal structural challenges and present serious barriers to sustained growth for metros. Nearly nine in 10 city officials (88 percent) note that workforce alignment has not improved over the past year, according to a recent survey on city fiscal conditions from the National League of Cities (NLC). Meanwhile, new business growth, as represented by indicators of entrepreneurial activity and new business permits, is showing signs of improvement.
Unlike most other economic indicators, city officials report that workforce skills are not keeping pace with employer demand and more than half of city officials (53 percent) say that current local workforce skills are posing a problem for the economic health of their communities. Moreover, 82 percent of city officials responded that the percentage of the population with a post-secondary degree has not increased over the past year. Replicating Promising Models to Diminish the Skills Gap
A skills gap often suggests a much more complex set of trends relating to a host of labor-related factors, including a shrinking labor force, long term unemployment, underemployment and divergent hiring patterns, as noted in a recent NLC blog post. A number of cities are actively and successfully aligning their policies to address these issues. Examples include Norfolk, VA, and Charlotte, NC, In Norfolk, Bomberg pointed to a training program for highly skilled welders, which was identified by local leaders as a profession with
high-growth opportunity and a short supply of workers. In this case, business leaders and academia worked together to cultivate a pipeline of qualified workers for the area's naval shipyard.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors last October highlighted a public-private partnership between the city of Charlotte, Siemens Industry, Piedmont Community College and Charlotte Works as a best practice for workforce development. A planned expansion at Siemens required an additional 750 workers in just two years. In response, a European-style apprenticeship program was implemented for high
school juniors and seniors, which includes a four-year training program, associate's degree and certification.
Bomberg identified several other cities with promising models including in St. Paul, MN, Louisville, KY, Eugene and Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA.
Read the NLC 2013 Local Economic Conditions Survey.