Community Colleges Answer Hiring Needs of Business

Across the KC metro area, nimble programs address a critical work-force needs.

By Charlie Shields

The successful 21st-century workplace is highly dependent on individuals who have strong skills in reading, writing, math, verbal communication and digital literacy. Attaining these skills is most meaningful when they are developed through a relevant workplace context, aligned with specific workplace expectations.
Given that, businesses in Kansas City have a significant resource in the region’s web of community colleges: The five-campus Metropolitan Community College system on the Missouri side, and its complementary Kansas pieces, Johnson County Community College and Kansas City Kansas Community College.

All have proven expertise developing interactive, outcomes-based basic skills improvement that has assisted companies in increasing their employees’ achievement in these crucial areas and, consequently, increasing their on-the-job success and satisfaction.

MCC has served our region for over 100 years, and I am proud to serve on the MCC Foundation’s board of directors.

The excellence of its programs, the breadth of its services, and the diligent focus on serving the needs of students, businesses and the community at large have made MCC an integral factor in the economic health and growth of the metro region.

All of these institutions are able to engage with businesses to understand, develop and provide “real-time” training and advanced educational opportunities meeting the wide-ranging needs of regional businesses and industries. The scope of job-training programs ranges from entry-level to workplace soft skill and communication as well as, digital literacy and the opportunity to attain advanced certifications and academic degrees.

Large organizations like Truman Medical Centers take advantage of these programs and reap the benefits by hiring and maintaining highly trained, valuable staff. Our community colleges work closely with businesses throughout the region to customize training programs that meet the needs of their specific technical skills, whether that is IT to hospitality or medical care to science and engineering. These hands-on training programs not only build essential skills and competencies businesses expect, but are also based on certification and licensure requirements.

Those just entering the work-force can take advantage of these programs and learn new skills, while those already in the work force can use them to hone skills they already have or advance their knowledge base to excel within their workplace.

Another area where these schools excel in is providing students with soft-skills expertise. This includes vital workplace skills like conflict resolution, teamwork and team building, ethical decision-making, problem solving and effective time management. All of these skills and abilities are essential for anyone working or wanting to work in the modern business world. These skills are invaluable, and training specific to the colleges’ business partners can be done on schedules that meet their needs and their employees’.

At MCC, for example, the mission is preparing students, serving communities, creating opportunities. This is a mission that works to help nearly every major employer in the Kansas City area build, enhance and maintain a high-level work-force for the future. This clear and exciting mission and purpose have guided creation of innovative formats for individuals to embark in career pathways providing them with learning “modules” that build upon each other and become solid steps to more advanced training and educational opportunities as needed.  

These “stackable credentials” allow students to engage in gaining essential industry-demanded credentials while, at the same time, providing programs that can be seamlessly integrated into longer-term certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees and beyond. This innovative approach eliminates the need for individuals to take redundant coursework; insures that learners have fully mastered the technical and academic skills needed to progress to more advanced levels; supports the business community by offering their workers with ongoing, cost-effective, high priority workplace and academic learning opportunities; creates pools of qualified applicants for current and emerging jobs; and provides these essential programs in a timely and flexible format.

MCC’s collaboration with business and industry partners in our region, like that of the Kansas-side colleges, also ensures that programs are developed, and refined, based on the continuously changing and growing economic opportunities in our region.

Kansas City is fortunate to have institutions with the caliber of programs accessible to our business community. I encourage you to explore how they can partner with your business to address your training needs and support your strategic business priorities and help create your future work force. 

About the author

Charlie Shields is President and CEO of Truman Medical Centers in Kansas City.