In talking with a local furniture retailer, officials from Broward College in Florida learned the company had a problem: It was expanding rapidly and needed to build a part-time sales force to take some
of the burden off its regular employees.
These seasoned sales associates were getting
burned out because they were working
nights and weekends.
Broward College did not have to look far
to find a solution.
“We thought: Who would be better to work
these hours than college students?” says Mildred
Coyne, executive director of career and workforce education and economic development.
The college negotiated a contract with the
furniture supplier to create a noncredit sales
training academy for students. The deal
gives the company a supply of prescreened
applicants who have gone through its sales
training, it gives students an opportunity for
part-time work—and it gives the college yet
another source of income.
“If students are chosen for employment,
they can start on the showroom floor right
away,” Coyne says. The college wants to replicate this model for other organizations that
are struggling to find top talent.
With state funding and student enrollment on the decline, community college
leaders are looking for creative ways to grow
revenue. That means using the resources
they already have to generate new funding.
“Community colleges have never been
flush with money,” says Marc Westenburg,
director of the Center for Community
College Advancement at the Council for
Advancement and Support of Education. “We
have always been lean and nimble in our
operation. When you have to cinch your belt
THINK LIKE AN ENTREPRENEUR
To meet this challenge, community colleges are becoming more entrepreneurial
in nature. Successful colleges understand
their strengths, recognize the needs of their
community and develop programs that marry
these for everyone’s benefit.
With a strong workforce development
program, Crowder College in southwestern
Missouri has brought in additional revenue
by offering customized training programs
for local employers in areas such as computer
skills, workplace safety, Six Sigma certification
and supervisory training. In one example, the
college trained employees from a local La-Z-Boy
plant to implement a cellular manufacturing
process to boost efficiency.
Using the college to meet their training needs offers a number of advantages
for employers, says Director of Public
Information Cindy Brown.
“If they are delivering this training for
themselves, they lose the productivity of the
employee who is giving the instruction,” she
explains. “We can offer training without
any lost time to employers, and often more
Broward College has increased revenues by
50 percent since merging its workforce edu-
cation and economic development units. The
combined workforce development division
has become an economic engine for both the
college and area employers, helping to meet
the needs of local businesses through several