Career Pathways Initiative

Promising Program Designs to Support Career Pathways: College Cohort Models

Posted by Career Pathways Initiative - On March 07, 2011 (EST)

By Marlena Sessions , Chief Executive Officer, Workforce Development Council of Seattle-King County

I was honored to serve as a “Subject Matter Expert” at the CPI in December at the Frances Perkins DOL building. 

As I raced through the day from pink corridor to blue corridor, meeting with state teams from Kansas and Virginia and Kentucky, I was struck by two main themes:

1)      Role clarity matters.

2)      Once you get role clarity, you can do anything with commitment.

These teams definitely had a lot of the latter and were, I sensed through the course of the Institute, looking for more of the former. The teams were like mini replicas of local systems, comprising WIB directors, community colleges, business and chamber leaders, United Way and sometimes other community philanthropic organizations. Their commitment was palpable, as was their willingness to roll up their sleeves and get to work. What they were searching for, however, was more clarification around who should do which functions for the greatest impact.

It was clear that this particular group of 11 teams was way beyond the turf wars of the past, for example between community colleges and local workforce boards. We were well aware that to truly impact jobseekers and employers and put people back to work in our local communities, we needed to work together and NOT replicate, NOT duplicate but rather, be a seamless team and system like never before.

To paraphrase a statement in a recent workshop by Ron Painter, the Executive Director of the National Association of Workforce Boards:  “Guess what, we finally figured out that we aren’t all perfect at EVERYTHING!”

Community colleges provide nimble and critical training and employer-recognized credentials. Workforce boards convene all the partners around the same table, share important industry and labor market information, and, through the one-stop system, serve the jobseeker before, during and after training with wraparound services, job placement and retention. Business leaders provide the important end to the transaction—a job!

Simply, we must clarify our roles, do what we are all good at, and get to work.

In the resources section we posted an example of role clarification that relates to our Career Pathways and Community College partner work, entitled “College Cohorts: Buying Classes, Opening Doors.”  Hope it is helpful!


User Comments (2)
On September 14, 2011  Wesley Crompton said:
I think this is a great opportunity for new college graduates to work from home and build a bridge into the employment sector. Job placement and retention is paramount to any successful employment initiative, and the new graduates have the experience to share.

On March 31, 2012  David Sanderson said:
If we could extend the college program to incorporate some smsf strategies for young people, we could help reduce the dependence of retired people on social security.

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Modified On : March 07, 2011
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