Community colleges have long taken pride in their ability to adjust
to changing workforce needs. The local plumbers union requires a new
certification. No problem. Adjust. A biotechnology manufacturer seeks
workers to staff its state-of-the-art research facility. Not a problem.
But what happens when a new industry materializes almost overnight?
From January 2011 to June 2011, Internet staffing firm Onward Search reports
that the number of jobs with the phrase "social media” in their
description increased by more than 45 percent. With the explosion of
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media sites—Facebook alone
now boasts more than 800 million users worldwide—more employers want
workers who can skillfully navigate the social media universe. And
community colleges are quickly becoming the place to turn.
With entry-level jobs from $45,000 a year into six figures, some
institutions have begun working with employers to launch professional
training courses and a handful of for-credit certificates intended to
help businesses and their employees tap a wellspring of new business and
Madison Area Technical College launched its first social media certificate program in the fall of
2010, with courses on social media campaigns, ethical issues surrounding
social media, Web design strategies and writing for new media.