The Louisiana Community and Technical College System’s Accelerating Opportunity program exemplifies the best kind of workforce partnership, one that provides training that benefits both workers and employers.
Chauncey Lennon, JPMorgan Chase & Co. head of workforce initiatives, said although it’s still early in the process, efforts like community college system’s are what the company hoped to encourage through its philanthropy program.
“It’s about the community colleges thinking about how they can give ... access to training but in ways that are suited best to adults,” Lennon said.
The two-year schools also helped students learn, whether basic literacy, math or advanced classes, in the context of the types of jobs they were going to pursue, Lennon said. Adults learn best through this type of approach, he said.
Lennon was in Baton Rouge Wednesday to accept an award from the college system for JPMorgan Chase’s contributions to the Accelerating Opportunity program.
JPMorgan donated $1 million to help fund statewide workforce training and help connect students to jobs in the ongoing multibillion-dollar industrial expansion. The college system used that money to secure $4 million from the state’s Workforce Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund, so accelerating opportunity training could be done at all 13 tech school campuses.
Lennon said the state’s two-year schools provide a real connection and alignment with employers, creating a curriculum and training that closely tracked companies’ needs.
The college system provides support for people whose lives are often volatile because of low income and a lack of resources, Lennon said. The school system helps make sure adult students have the support to navigate through the training and education programs and into the labor market, and on to better jobs over time, he added.
System President Monty Sullivan said the partnership with JPMorgan Chase has been freeing, rather than proscriptive.
JPMorgan allowed the system to work alongside the financial services giant, to learn and talk about ways to do things better, Sullivan said.
Lennon said what’s unique about Louisiana’s two-year colleges, unlike lots of other community colleges, is that they are not looking to become LSU or Tulane.
“The truth is that a two-year college that’s going to make it is figuring out how to connect to business, connect to students who are different than students who go to those other places,” Lennon said.
The successful community college will be able to take those older students and give them the specific type of training they want, Lennon said.
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