Career Colleges Host Summit on Preparing the New American Workforce

Denver, CO — October 22, 2011 — Saturday at Ecotech Institute, the first college entirely focused on preparing graduates for careers in clean technology, policymakers and leading experts in higher education, business, renewable energy, government, non-profits and policy think tanks will gather at the Summit on Higher Education’s Role in Preparing the New American Workforce, organized by the Coalition for Education Success.

Summit attendees will focus on how the fragile U.S. economy can be strengthened through higher education-wide measures that address the challenges and opportunities for students, employers and administrators. Featured speakers include U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, The New York Times columnist Joe Nocera, Van Schoales of Education Reform Now, Dusti Gurule of the U.S. Department of Labor and Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute.  Participants will discuss the role career colleges have played in helping to place graduates in growing sustainable-industry jobs in the nation’s fastest growing sectors, such as healthcare, engineering and green technologies.

Career colleges have a proven track record of preparing students for tomorrow’s careers.  Career colleges graduate 58% of students.  Career colleges educate and place students in 17 of the 20 fastest growing fields in the nation.  Career college graduates represent 42% of health degrees and certificates conferred at two-year-and-less institutions.

“At this pivotal moment for the American economy and higher education, the Coalition is fostering a dialogue on how partnerships between the higher education sector and employers can help fill the skills gap and restore America’s leadership in higher education,” said Penny Lee, Managing Director of the Coalition.

“I want to welcome the important national and local education leaders who have gathered at the Summit today. Higher Education and job training are critical issues for both our nation, as well as our local community,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “We need to close the gap between what employers’ need and what educational opportunities are available by promoting innovative higher education.”

Summit on Higher Education’s Role in Preparing the New American Workforce
The Summit will include three panel discussions that will explore the challenges higher education and America face today.

The first panel, Hire Education: Examining What Skills Define a “Career Ready” College Graduate, will provide a summary of job training programs that prepare graduates of career colleges and other institutions to find competitive jobs in America’s fastest growing industries. Panelists will discuss the barriers to employment workers currently face due to the skills gap, and how employers can work with institutions of higher education to better prepare tomorrow’s workforce.

The second panel, Extreme Makeover – Higher Education Edition: Injecting Innovative Policies into Higher Education, will provide panelists and attendees the opportunity to discuss current higher education policies. Panelists will review what is currently being done at higher education institutions of all types (career colleges, public universities, community colleges, etc.), as well as what should and can be done in the higher education sector with regards to innovation and best practices aimed at working adults. 

The third panel, Innovative Partnerships at Work: Best Practices from Existing Academic-Corporate Collaborations, will encourage forging stronger academic-corporate partnerships as a recommended path for future industry growth.  This panel is designed to inform how academia can continue to advance and forge stronger partnerships with the business world.  Through discussions of best practices and insights from players on both the supply and demand side of America’s workforce, the outcome for attendees will be the establishment of academic-corporate collaborations as a clear priority, and recommended paths for advancement.

“At a time when the country is in dire need of sustainable job opportunities for trained workers, career colleges continue to work hard to make sure events like the Summit address student and employer needs,” said Avy Stein and Lincoln Frank, co-chairmen of the Coalition. “Our sector’s message is clear: career colleges help millions of students and provide essential workforce training. We will continue to develop best practices as we move forward to meet the economy’s demand for better educated workers.”

“We believe strongly in the President’s goals of strengthening our economy through workforce training and achieving the highest percentage of college graduates in the world by 2020. That is why career colleges are preparing students for high tech, green energy and other manufacturing jobs. Today’s Summit provides a first step for sector-wide collaboration with employers and government officials. In the long-term, sector-wide discussion will only have a positive and beneficial impact on students everywhere, regardless of what institution of higher education they choose to attend,” added Lee.

Today’s Summit coverage will include video clips of speaker presentations, available after the event online. For more information on today’s Summit, visit: http://www.ed-success.org/events/

Standards of Responsible Conduct and Transparency
The Summit will also address the need for a single regulatory standard for all of higher education.  The Foundation for Educational Success recently released Standards of Responsible Conduct and Transparency outlining key operating principle and student protections for institutions of higher education.

The Foundation’s Standards were born out of the idea that students should receive clear and accurate information in order to make informed decisions — from their initial enrollment to understanding tuition and financial aid packages to graduating from their intended program and successfully finding job opportunities.  The Standards will improve opportunities for students who seek career colleges as their means for their higher education. This starts with a 21-day “Readiness Opportunity” under which students can withdraw at any point before their 21st day and leave the school with no federal loan debt.

Career colleges representing 17% of the sector have signed onto the Standards, with strong reception from members of the Congress.

Coalition for Educational Success
The Coalition for Educational Success includes many of the nation’s leading career colleges. Career colleges provide training for students in 17 of the 20 fastest growing fields. The Coalition advocates for policies that support wider access to higher education, particularly for non-traditional students including full-time workers, workforce returners, working parents, minorities and veterans.

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