The Power of Partnerships
Central Community College has forged numerous partnerships in more than 50 years of existence, and it will continue well into the future. Perhaps the partnerships that are most top-of-mind are the ones between CCC and business and industry. Hundreds, if not thousands, of CCC students have benefited from such partnerships as have the businesses that have signed on the dotted line.
In an article posted on the Center for American Progress website, author Louis Soares explained why partnerships between higher education institutions, particularly community colleges, and business and industry make a great deal of sense.
“Community colleges’ scale and adaptability make them a strong choice as a driver of postsecondary education,” wrote Soares. “Community colleges are the institutions that stand closest to the crossroads of higher education and the real world, where Americans need to apply a mix of technical knowledge, business acumen, and creativity to add value in firms whose imperative is to compete on innovation. This complex talent mix requires knowledge and skills gleaned from both academic education and vocational training.”
CCC has long-standing partnerships with JBS, Tyson Foods and CNH Industrial. Here is an update on some recent partnership ventures:
In March, CCC was one of six community/technical colleges to join JBS USA and Pilgrim’s in the Better Futures program. Under the plan, JBS employees and their eligible dependents taking courses at the Grand Island or Hastings campuses, will have their tuition paid for upfront by the company. To be eligible, JBS team members need only to have worked with the company for the last six months and remain in good standing with JBS through completion of their education. JBS employees can pursue whatever program they choose.
“We believe in the power of education to improve lives, and the Better Futures program is an extension of our promise to offer opportunities for a better future to our team members,” said Pilgrim’s President and CEO Fabio Sandri. “Better Futures will open doors for our team members and their families to learn and grow as they work to achieve their dreams.”
Many of the program participants will be first-generation college students, and the companies are actively promoting the program with their workforce in multiple languages to encourage participation.
“We are so pleased to be able to provide quality educational opportunities to the outstanding employees of JBS and members of their families,” said CCC President Dr. Matt Gotschall. “This is definitely a win-win-win partnership between individuals, private industry and public higher education, which will make a positive difference for generations to come.”
A tri-partnership between CCC’s Lexington Center, the City of Lexington and Tyson Foods, Lexington’s largest employer, helps educate Tyson workers which qualifies them for higher wages.
Under the partnership arrangement, Tyson employees receive classroom instruction in the newly remodeled workforce training space in the Dawson County Opportunity Center, where CCC-Lexington is located. From 8 a.m. until noon, the employees learn the different types of mechanical and electrical processes which are utilized at Tyson Foods. The afternoon is spent applying the information at the plant. Once the employees complete the training, they are then able to earn the top rate for technicians at Tyson.
In 2020, the partnership received a Contract Training Award from the Learning Resource Network (LERN). The award recognizes LERN member contract training teams that demonstrate exemplary best practices.
Doug Pauley, associate dean of training and development, received the award and said, “The tri-partnership and the training center will not only benefit Tyson for many years to come, but other employers in the region which are interested in growing a technically skilled workforce.”
CNH Industrial in Grand Island joined CCC’s Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP) this past summer.
RAP follows the “earn while you learn” model, which provides apprentices with the opportunity to further their education and develop their skills while supporting themselves through employment. The combination of schooling and mentorship provided by the business means apprentices will learn the skills needed to be successful in their chosen field. Upon graduating from CCC with an associate of applied science degree and completing on-the-job training, the apprentices commit to working for their respective companies for two years.
CCC apprenticeship coordinator Catrina Gray said that two CNH Industrial employees are apprentices in the welding technology program at the Grand Island Campus. “One has already finished their associate degree so they are just completing the on-the-job training,” said Gray. “The other apprentice is a second-year student and will earn his associate degree in May 2022.”
Apprentices have to work at least 32 hours per week and go to school in order to be eligible for the program. Once the RAP program is complete, CNH Industrial will reimburse the apprentices.
The RAP program has expanded as Gray has signed A&E Electric of Hastings and Lindsay Corporation of Lindsay. She is also working on signing two additional Columbus area businesses and two in Kearney.