C ongressional approval of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has coincided with a flurry of curricular activity at Community College of Philadelphia that positions our College well with regard to economic stimulus goals. Among the components of the ARRA legislation are specific emphases on the health care sector, “green” jobs and other fields that represent high demand workforce needs in the Greater Philadelphia region. ARRA funds will enable the Philadelphia Workforce Investment Board (PWIB) to work closely with our College and other organizations in offering training designed to make Philadelphians competitive for positions in key industries across our city and region. Our Corporate Solutions division, which recently created a Stimulus Unit, will be heavily engaged with the PWIB for this education and training activity.
Prior to the passage of the ARRA, College faculty were already working on a number of new certificates of completion that are both short term and flexible, but that also serve as foundation courses for full associate’s degrees. These certificates require fewer than 30 credits to complete, but all are responsive to priority industry and employment needs. Among the new programs are certificates in Animation and Imaging, CAD Technical Proficiency, Culinary Arts and Process Technology.
With these new certificates, the College has added almost 30 new credit options that are directly related to high demand or green jobs. The programs range from health care to facility construction/management to technology-based sectors. All of the courses and credits can also be applied to an appropriate associate’s degree curriculum, and some, like Phlebotomy and Medical Coding, can lead to certifications.
For ARRA-funded training, we offer short-term, noncredit options as well. Students can enroll in specific fields such as Child Care Associate, Certified Nursing Assistant, Early Childhood Director certificate, Pharmacy Technician, or Automotive Emissions Inspector. We are working with both the PWIB and city officials to expand the education and training we can provide through all of these credit and noncredit certificates. This approach is at once innovative and strategic.
Finally, the training dollars available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offer the opportunity for future collaborations with other providers that can address current and emerging workforce needs. We hope that the Act indeed stimulates collaborations that will expand our educational horizon into training programs focused on weatherization, solar panel design and installation, green home basics training, LEED certification training and many other emerging priorities. Such activity will represent positive, long-term outcomes that move beyond the impact of two years of federal stimulus dollars.