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Worker Shortage Spurs Uncharacteristic Partnerships Connecting Colleges, Business

  • Publication: 
    The Hechinger Report
    February 9, 2018

    DENVER — David Andy went to college after graduating from high school, spent his first two semesters drifting through introductory classes, then was told to pick a major.

    That was when he had an unfortunate epiphany: He had no idea what he was doing there. “I just didn’t like anything,” said Andy. “Nothing stood out to me.” He didn’t know what he’d do in real life with, say, a degree in English. “There was no end goal for that.”

    Now Andy, who is 29, is enrolled in an unusual program at Metropolitan State University in Denver designed precisely to provide him with the degree he needs for a career in advanced manufacturing.

    “For so long we’ve used a degree as a proxy for employability, but it doesn’t work that way anymore,” said Noel Ginsburg, CEO of a plastics and medical-equipment manufacturing company and founder of a statewide apprenticeship and job-training program called CareerWise Colorado. “Education changes slowly and what’s happening out here in a factory or in an office is moving at the speed of light.”

    “Businesses have to think about their role and that is as big of a challenge I think as universities changing,” Ginsburg said.

    “They have to do this,” said Beth Cobert, who as former acting director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management oversaw millions of federal employees and who is now CEO of Skillful, another effort to bring together colleges and corporations. Colorado has “a terrific economy and growing demand. So from employers’ point of view, there’s a willingness to try new things.”

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