Among the many, many activities we have going on at the College this spring, we will be working to finalize a new strategic plan with key goals that will set our direction between now and 2020. Just one of the inputs to this extensive planning process was a daylong Strategic Planning Summit that was held last month. It was a day of examining a wide range of input, and FVTC’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT analysis).
One of the highlights of the summit for me was hearing from three panels – a panel representing community organizations, another involving leaders from the region’s K-12 school districts, and an employer panel. While each panel did an outstanding job of sharing the challenges and opportunities in their respective areas, I was particularly struck by the challenge presented by the employer panel. There were seven different industry sectors represented on that panel – agriculture, health care, manufacturing, transportation, child care, information technology, and law enforcement.
There was a clear and very common theme of concern from each of these industry sectors, and that concern focused on the challenges they’re currently having in hiring individuals with the requisite skillsets needed for their organizations. There simply are not enough people in today’s labor pool with the necessary education and/or experience to fill the positions they have open. And there was even more concern about this becoming increasingly worse in the years to come.
FVTC, of course, plays a critical role in preparing individuals for just the kinds of positions our panelists were focusing on – technicians, specialists, programmers, operators, and paraprofessionals. And right now, our greatest challenge is simply not having enough people coming to the College to pursue careers in these high-demand fields. There aren’t adequate numbers of high school graduates, young adults, or career changers filling our technical education pipeline to support the needs of area employers or preparing for these outstanding and in-demand career opportunities.
Just as these industry sectors recognize, we too are going to need to become more effective in helping the people of our communities and beyond understand where the best employment opportunities of the future will be found. And then, do our best in preparing them for these opportunities. So what do we need to do differently to attract even more students to fill this pipeline and address these important needs and opportunities in the region’s workforce? If you have suggestions to help guide our strategic efforts along this line, I would love to hear them.