Following a moving plea by President Obama for local community colleges to start catering to the local businesses and industries with specialized curriculums to get trained workers on the job faster, Maricopa Community Colleges and the University of Phoenix announced a partnership this week that holds those very goals in mind. This joint venture will be used to reach out to community businesses in many different fields to help promote growth, educate potential employees, and bridge a gap that has been present in the collegiate system for far too long.
Identifying Workforce Needs
The objective of the partnership between Maricopa Community College and the University of Phoenix is simple; they wish to get local residents to work as quickly as possible and make sure that they have the proper skills in place to become productive, long-term employees. In some cases, that means specialized courses that are designed with the help of local businesses so that graduates have optimal skill sets for the job. For the professions that require a Bachelor’s Degree education or higher, this partnership will ensure a smooth transition from one college system to the other. The University of Phoenix even gives college credit for experience within the workforce to accelerate the process.
“The Maricopa Community Colleges are committed to helping our students reach their educational goals, and part of that commitment is ensuring that they have as many ways as possible to achieve success,” said Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges. “This new partnership will provide a transition from associate’s to bachelor’s degree in areas like manufacturing, hospitality and business, where we know we need skilled workers and need them now.”
Focus on Multiple Industries
Another aspect of the partnership between the University of Phoenix and Maricopa Community College is to target a wide variety of industries and to identify the unique requirements within each of them. A textile manufacturing plant may have completely different equipment and working conditions than a factory producing electronic components just down the street , for example, and these college bodies want to ensure that their specialized curriculums are as specific as possible for each employer. Similar adaptations are being planned for the local healthcare, business, and hospitality industries as well.
While some may argue that specializing courses towards specific businesses may seem like an enormous waste of resources, this type of philosophy is essentially what community colleges were first created for in the first place. These types of credits were never designed to transfer out to larger four-year universities because the entire concept was to train a workforce locally and to keep that talent from relocating to larger cities once they graduated. The University of Phoenix and Maricopa Community College are simply trying to recreate a “best of both worlds” type of educational scenario and ultimately, everyone wins.