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Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Pathways Consortium

Consortium imageThrough the U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative, nine community and technical colleges from Mississippi (5) and Louisiana (4) have joined together into the Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Pathways Consortium to address the critical challenges facing trade-impacted workers and to meet the high demand for IT workers in their regions. The NCTN serves as a technical assistance partner to the Consortium, along with the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE), Jobs for the Future (JFF), and the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC).

Members of the Consortium include Bossier Parish Community College (lead grantee), Delgado Community College, Northeast Louisiana Technical College, South Louisiana Community College, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, Pearl River Community College, Meridian Community College, Northeast Mississippi Community College, and Mississippi Delta Community College. Responding to the significant economic need, these colleges are developing evidence-based Career Pathway programs leading to industry-valued credentials and degrees for TAA impacted workers, students who have recently dropped out of high school, and students who are interested in the program. The Consortium is committed to serving 2,000 students over the three-year grant period.

Each college will implement a new, ground-breaking IT foundational curriculum based on the I-BEST model pioneered in Washington State integrating basic skills instruction with technical training to accelerate learning and promote completion. The program will not only lead to a marketable, entry-level certification, but also lattices into multiple high demand IT specialty pathways and certifications in Health Informatics, Cyber Security, and Industrial IT. Students will have access to multiple entry and exit points along their chosen pathway, Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) opportunities, and the comprehensive supports needed to boost completion. Also, they will have the opportunity to continue their education at 4-year universities.

An important element of this initiative is to honor the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) many of these trade-impacted workers gained in the workplace and translate those KSAs into college level work through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA).  Although PLAs are used across the colleges, they are not used consistently, nor are students uniformly made aware of the opportunity to earn credit for their prior learning. Through an analysis of the current approaches used among Consortium members, the NCTN will support the development of an improved streamlined approach to PLA. This approach will be tied to the programs’ intake process to ensure that all incoming TAA eligible workers, veterans, and other students have the opportunity to earn credit for prior learning. Coaching and other professional development activities provided by the NCTN team will ensure that all the elements of a strong PLA system are implemented and promoted for the benefit of the students impacted by this grant.

For more information about this project, please contact Ellen Hewett at ehewett@worlded.org.

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