FROM THE CHAIR
BY JOHN SYGIELSKI
The of Community Colleges in Workforce Development Role
As chairman of the board of the American Associa- tion of Community Colleges, I was honored to attend the White House Summit on Community Colleges in Washington, D.C., in October 2010. One of the topics discussed at the event was industry and community college partnerships and how these partnerships can best educate stu-
dents and prepare them for employment.
In this issue, we focus on workforce development and how training
offered at community colleges can strengthen local communities and
local industry. Indeed, community colleges are uniquely positioned to
understand and respond to the needs of local businesses. By educating and
preparing the local workforce, we ensure the success of local business, keep
jobs in the community, and, in turn, support the local economy.
transition from the TechPrep program to
MHCC “went really smoothly, and my
instructors at Mt. Hood prepared me to get
a good job at Boeing Portland. Currently,
I’m a machinist apprentice,
taking what I learned at
MHCC to the next level, on
really complex machines and
A Successful Collaboration
Across the country, there are many examples of community colleges supporting local
business through certification programs, workforce development, and specialized
training. Our colleges play a critical role in economic development, especially when it
comes to developing the local workforce. One example is the long-standing relationship
between Mt. Hood Community College (MHCC), where I serve as president, and the
Boeing plant in Portland, Ore.
The collaboration between MHCC and Boeing is one of the most valuable ways MHCC
serves the needs of the community. For about 15 years, MHCC and Boeing have enjoyed
a successful collaboration in employee education, skills training, and career counseling.
Boeing workers and MHCC students benefit from this collaboration—Boeing workers get a chance to advance their careers, and MHCC students graduate with the skills
needed to work at Boeing.
Sharon Birge, International Association of Machinists (IAM)/Joint Programs admin-
istrator at Boeing Portland, agrees. “Mt. Hood Community College plays an important
role in preparing our employees for the future by offering training and coursework in
critical skill areas,” she says. “We expect that the long-term partnership between MHCC
and Boeing Portland will continue to enhance our manufacturing competitiveness while
contributing to the economic vitality of the Portland community.”
Boeing and MHCC collaborations include: scholarship funding through the MHCC
Foundation; fundraising events; MHCC educational opportunities for Boeing employ-
ees; MHCC classroom instruction by Boeing employees; apprenticeship courses; the
TechPrep internship program (started in 1994); the Boeing Co. Manufacturing Tech Prep
Associate Degree Intern Scholarship; and having MHCC staff work on site at Boeing.
MHCC employees on site at Boeing have a number of responsibilities, including:
providing career counseling; guiding professional development plans; developing and
coordinating educational and training programs for employees; researching, developing,
conducting, and evaluating computer classes and computer lab hardware and software;
and coordinating education and safety fairs, as well as specialty training.
The TechPrep program, a collaboration between Boeing and the IAM union, is a
summer internship offered to high school juniors that leads some interns to MHCC and,
eventually, to an apprenticeship at Boeing. MHCC graduate Dan Jones attests that the
Focus on Community
President Barack Obama has
repeatedly stressed the impor-
tance of community colleges
in preparing the American
workforce for the jobs of
tomorrow. If the United States
is to compete internationally, community
colleges must educate and prepare the
country’s workforce. This might sound like
a tall order, but if we start at home—in the
communities we serve—we can improve
the nation’s workforce.
Toward that end, community college
leaders must address these questions:
1. Are we aware of the needs of local
2. How can we meet those needs?
3. How can we better prepare our students
for jobs in local industry?
Boeing Portland recently faced a wave of
retirements and lacked the trained workers needed to replace its retirees. By offering appropriate skills training and courses,
MHCC ensured Boeing a pool of skilled,
accomplished workers to draw from and
helped ensure the continued success of
Boeing Portland, its employees, and MHCC
Through appropriate workforce training, community colleges can create a skilled
local workforce, support individual career
paths, and help local companies thrive.
What are you doing for your community?
John “Ski” SygielSki is AACC board chair
and president of Mt. Hood Community
College in Gresham, Ore.
6 COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL December 2010/January 2011