LCCC’s Earn and Learn and apprenticeship models help employers address a tight labor market
While the U.S economy continues to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, the number of skilled jobs available continues to outpace the supply of qualified workers to fill them.
This skilled labor shortage, which predates the pandemic, presents a challenge for companies but is also a source of opportunity for employers and employees alike. Embedding Lorain County Community College’s “Earn and Learn” and apprenticeship models into their hiring and training programs helps employers meet their ever-changing labor needs, while employees gain skills and experience without accruing mountains of debt.
“Earn and Learn programs remove the guesswork for employers and potential employees,” says Terri Burgess Sandu, LCCC’s director of talent and business innovation. “Employers have a chance to match the right candidates with the right jobs, while customizing their on-the-job training to the company’s needs. Students receive a clear roadmap to understand how a specific degree or certificate program prepares them for the opportunities local employers are offering.”
These programs also help employers reach new audiences and build internal career pathways that help retain top talent.
“Employers can more clearly articulate the competencies they need for specific roles, the credentials and degrees that provide those skills, and the career pathways within their organization,” says Sandu. “Aligning these programs to industry-recognized credentials can accelerate adults’ readiness to meet employer needs for entry level and skilled positions and allows companies to create a ‘grow your own’ strategy for the talent they need to meet demand.”
As many as 2.1 million U.S. manufacturing jobs will go unfilled through 2030, according to a study by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, which warned the worker shortage will hurt revenue and production and could cost the U.S. economy up to $1 trillion per year by 2030.
But the issue extends far beyond the manufacturing sector. The workforce shortage in the healthcare industry was exacerbated by the pandemic as doctors and nurses left employment. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare employment is down by more than 500,000 positions since February 2020, even as demand is up. And Team NEO’s Aligning Opportunities Report indicates that not only healthcare, but manufacturing and IT are suffering a misalignment between a demand for talent and the talent available to fill those jobs.
Cybersecurity also faces massive challenges. According to Burning Glass Technologies, it takes 21 percent longer to fill cybersecurity jobs than it does to fill other information technology jobs — creating huge opportunities in the field for those eager to learn new skills.
Earning while learning
LCCC has a long history of partnering with industry to support registered apprenticeship and internship programs. That work continues and is complemented by additional choices for what an Earn and Learn approach might look like at their company.
A great example is the TRAIN Ohio Earn and Learn model (Training Recruitment Acceleration Innovation Network), in which LCCC partners with sponsoring companies so that students attend school full time two days per week and work at a host company three days a week. LCCC is serving companies and students with this model with programs in micro electromechanical systems, automation engineering technologies, and cyber and information systems, with additional expansion in the works within a number of applied technical degree programs. Earn and Learn and apprenticeship models can help employers reduce training time and costs, while increasing the speed at which employees gain full productivity.
“As talent needs become acute across many sectors, industry leaders are looking for innovative solutions,” Sandu says. “Shortening the path for individuals who may have no background in a particular occupation or industry to be able to add value to a company, while continuing to build their skills, is part of the overall strategy for meeting this need.”
Employer assistance — and success
Navigating myriad state and federal training funds and programs can be confusing and time consuming for employers. But LCCC’s Business Growth Services team can reduce that burden for companies looking to take advantage of these programs.
“We understand that the types of support available and determining who may be eligible are moving targets, and many companies do not have the capacity to stay current with what is available,” says Cindy Kushner, LCCC’s director of school and community partnerships. “We make connecting to these funds easy and painless. We can then spend our time designing training that helps companies meet their goals.”
LCCC’s Earn and Learn and apprenticeship programs have garnered a number of successes.
- A partnership with UAW/Ford Motor Co. that stretches back more than 20 years has trained nearly 1,000 local workers in trades including electrical, pipefitter, millwright, welding, toolmaker and industrial truck mechanic.
- At Oberlin-based agricultural machinery manufacturer AgriNomix, LCCC engineering technology students helped improve the automation process for shipping products to customers.
- A customized apprenticeship program is helping Ridge Tool Company take control of its future and train tomorrow’s advanced manufacturing workforce.
- Recent collaborations with Kendal at Oberlin and LifeCare Ambulance Services have accelerated the development of STNA and paramedic students, respectively.
Employers have many different approaches for structuring Earn and Learn programs, and each comes with different funding incentives,” Kushner says. “LCCC’s Business Growth Services team stays current with all resources available to companies and can help you make a plan that is right for your business.”