Funded in 2012 by a $12.1 million USDOL Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant
In Connecticut, the health and life sciences represent an area of significant strategic growth supported by both public and private investment. Approximately 200,000 people in the state work in health and life science industries, with at least another 11,000 additional jobs expected in the next eight (8) years (EMSI Analyst Industry Cluster Report on Biomedical Industries; HL-SCI Technical Proposal, Page 5).
The Health and Life Sciences Career Initiative (HL-SCI) is designed to prepare workers to take on these new jobs with a particular focus in recruitment on veterans, TAA-eligible workers (those displaced by foreign trade), dislocated, unemployed and under-employed workers. Through a consortium of five community colleges (Norwalk, Capital, Gateway, Manchester and Middlesex), new programs are being developed and existing programs are being revised with input from industry to ensure that the skills needed to succeed in these new jobs are being taught at the colleges. The consortium colleges provide certifications, industry-recognized credentials, and certificate and associate degree training in a host of new areas (see chart below). Additionally, Charter Oak State College, the state's exclusive online college, is providing expertise in prior learning assessments to ensure that students get credit for military service and other prior learning. As administrator of the Connecticut Credit Assessment Program (CCAP) Charter Oak is also reviewing non-credit courses and reaching out to work place programs and not-for-profits to determine whether such programs are eligible for credit. Finally, the initiative includes a commitment to stacked and latticed credentials to maximize options for students. Toward that end, Eastern Connecticut State University is part of the consortium to ensure that we build bridges for our students from community colleges to four-year programs.
Finally, the initiative includes a significant commitment to recruitment and placement. Each of the consortium colleges has a full-time recruitment and placement coordinator who serves as a career pathway advisor, tracking students from their initial contact through their coursework, making sure that students make effective course selection that will help them move successfully through their program and preparing them for internships and jobs. In addition, we have strengthened the relationship between community colleges and workforce investment boards (WIBs) by providing recruitment and placement coordinators at each WIB. Finally, we have a veterans associate at each consortium college. Together, this group will coordinate recruitment efforts to bring in TAA-eligible and other under- and unemployed workers into the community college system through One Stop Centers and other portals; build relationships with employers to place students into internships; and organize employment placements for program completers.
HL-SCI implementation includes three evidence-based program strategies:
- Curriculum Innovation
In addition to creating at least forty-nine (49) new and revised certificate and degree programs that are developed in collaboration with and driven by industry demand, and align for credit certificate programs with industry-recognized credentials, the consortium is developing math and science booster modules online and as smart phone apps. These modules will help students master skills essential to their success in real-time and in a manner most convenient for them. We will also deliver online/hybrid learning courses to 2,400 students to accelerate course completions and to make education more accessible to a broader range of students.
- Prior Learning Assessments (PLAs)
As mentioned above, prior learning assessments allow students to earn college credits for work skills and on-the-job learning, thereby improving retention rates and accelerating time to program completion.
- Recruitment and Placement Services
It is well established that students with internship experience have more success in finding and retaining jobs. Toward that end, the initiative has set ambitious goals (360 internships and 2,000 jobs) for its students, and the colleges and workforce investment boards are working collaboratively to identify employers and to secure those placements.