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College and Career Success

Designing programs that meet employer needs, from both a technical and employability skills perspective, is critically important to the growth of our nation’s economy. CORD is leading projects that support colleges and employers in their collaborative efforts to develop industry-responsive curriculum culminating in credentials with labor market value.

Mapping Upward

students Mapping Upward was a two-year project supported by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE). It provided technical assistance (TA) to community college networks as they worked to embed stackable, industry-recognized credentials within technical associate degree programs. Sector-focused college networks received customized virtual and face-to-face TA from subject-matter experts and a dedicated coach to help the networks and individual colleges advance their efforts in stackable credential design through priorities and actions based on local needs. A toolkit was created to assist college teams in employer engagement and program design.

Necessary Skills Now Network

The Necessary Skills Now Network aims to advance community and technical college faculty and their respective industry partners’ access to and ability to collaborate around employability skills development in support of technician education across the STEM disciplines. The Network assists colleges in sharing resources, exploring effective teaching methods, and collaborating with local employers to help students improve workplace skills such as teamwork, problem-solving, communication, and dependability. The Network:

  1. Cultivates a community of practice for stakeholders to exchange ideas, promising practices, research, and employment trends.
  2. Provides professional development workshops and online courses to foster the adoption of effective teaching methods, instructional materials, and learning environments.
  3. Offers a repository of resources to support employability skills development among students in technical associate degree programs.

The NSN Network is funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education Program.

Employability Skills Resource Toolkit

The prevalence of employer reports about the gap in employability skills among applicants and new hires is a recurring theme across workforce development initiatives, yet a challenge that can be tackled on several fronts. In the classroom, we can modify our expectations of students to better reflect the types of skills employers say are critically important for workplace success. We can adapt our existing curriculum to teach specific employability skills, and we can enhance our programs of study by incorporating resources, activities, and experiences that will better prepare our students to be successful in their future careers. Developed by CORD for the North Carolina Community College System, the Employability Skills Resource Toolkit supports instructors as they seek to embed eight key employability competencies into existing courses. The toolkit is comprised of eight modules, each containing instructional materials that include activities, student handouts, assessment rubrics, and annotated slides.