Published on 6/29/2021.
In Prudential’s recent Pulse of American Workers Survey, the company found that “half of workers say that the pandemic has made them reevaluate their career goals, 48% are rethinking the type of job they want moving forward, and 53% would retrain for a career in a different field or industry if they had the opportunity.” This is a challenge for employers, but CR’s Board of Trustees and administrators believe that it also offers an opportunity for us, along with our community partners, to better align the needs of employers with the aspirations of employees, many of whom will also be our students.
From the survey cited above, along with other labor force trends, we know that upskilling and reskilling will be a primary component in attracting and retaining workers in the new economy. With our short-term, non-credit Adult and Community Education programs, along with our Career Education certificate and degree programs, College of the Redwoods is uniquely positioned to offer these skills-building opportunities. We are also committed to working with local businesses, the Humboldt County Workforce Development Board, K-12 partners, and with Humboldt State University to ensure that employers have a robust pool of qualified candidates to hire from.
Working together we can increase K-12 students’ exposure to regional career and job opportunities, encouraging them to remain in the region after graduation. As we develop plans for the future, we can focus new class offerings and academic programs on those areas that will have the greatest emerging workforce needs. We can increase demand for short-term certificates for quick entry into the labor market, and provide lifelong learning opportunities within our community.
In the College’s research related to the creation of a new Education Master Plan, several local employers have told us that, in some instances, a strong set of soft skills - the ability to communicate, work in teams, and use critical thinking for problem solving, for instance - are more important than knowing how to use the latest technology. College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University can work together with businesses to offer internships that provide real-world work experiences and prepare students for the demands of the workplace. This alliance will also allow us to embed workplace readiness skills into curricula and instruction.
No one could have anticipated the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our higher education institutions or our local economy. As we think about what is needed to recover, we are optimistic that we can and will rise to the occasion, as we have always done, by building on promising efforts already underway and creating new and innovative partnerships with HSU and Humboldt County.
I want to thank Prudence Ratliff, our Director of Adult and Community Education for realigning our workforce training in response to employers’ uncertainty over what skills our workers need and how those skills will change as our local and state economy begins the road to recovery. I also want to thank Mike Haley, Dean of our Career Education division for his leadership in developing academic programs that will help CR and our district thrive into the future.