Massachusetts employers give a mixed report card to the commonwealth’s community colleges, though more than a quarter of companies responding to a new AIM survey report having little or no contact with their local two-year institutions.
Twenty-six percent of the employers who responded to the survey, which was included in AIM’s monthly Business Confidence Index for February, rate the performance of their local community colleges as good. Another 25 percent rate that performance as fair, while 6 percent regard it as outstanding and 14 percent as poor.
Twenty-eight percent of employers say they do not have contact with community colleges. Most of those companies identify themselves as manufacturers looking for people with specific skills rather than college background.
“We are a learn-on-the job manufacturing company,” concluded one employer.
Other manufacturers appear to be turning to employer-driven training initiatives such as the Manufacturing Assistance Center Workforce Innovation Collaborative (MACWIC) to find qualified workers.
The survey results are based upon responses during February from 165 Massachusetts employers.
Katie Holahan, Vice President of Government Affairs at AIM, said that while the association encourages employers to use the resources available from community colleges, it’s not necessarily negative that many do not.
“Companies have diverse training and educational needs both for recruiting workers and product development. Community colleges provide those services for some companies but may not be a fit for everyone,” Holahan said.
Providing workers with the skills needed for the global economy is a cornerstone of AIM’s Blueprint for the Next Century economic plan for Massachusetts. The document recommends expanding performance-based funding for community colleges and establishing five-year performance benchmarks on work-force development and civic learning for the entire system.
“Government and business must develop the best system in the world for educating and training workers with the skills needed to allow Massachusetts companies to succeed in a rapidly changing global economy,” the Blueprint says.
Massachusetts’ 15 community colleges serve 184,000 students from the Berkshires to Cape Cod. The institutions also conduct training, retraining, certification, skills improvement, and program development for more than 3,191 organizations including local business and industry, nonprofits, unions, as well as state and federal agencies.
AIM’s closely watched Business Confidence Index will be made public next week.