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Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Pathways Consortium

Consortium imageThe National College Transition Network (NCTN) at World Education, Inc. is a technical assistance partner for the Retraining the Gulf Coast Workforce through IT Consortium  (GCIT). GCIT consists of nine community and technical colleges in Louisiana and Mississippi who have joined together to address the critical challenges facing trade-impacted workers in their regions and to meet the fast- growing demand for IT workers from local and regional employers. The U.S. Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) initiative has funded this project with a $14.7 million dollar grant awarded to the 9 colleges to create new IT programs.

Responding to significant economic need, GCIT colleges are developing evidence-based Career Pathway programs leading to industry-valued credentials for Trade Adjustment Act impacted workers, veterans, students without a high school diploma or equivalent, and interested students.  Through the strengthening of Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)* policies and practices and the building of comprehensive student support services, NCTN is helping to boost completion for the 2,000 students GCIT is committed to serve during the three year grant period.

The NCTN’s initial analysis of GCIT’s PLA practice and policy, based on data collected via site visits, interviews, and website/document reviews, informs the NCTN’s work to guide the implementation of an improved streamlined PLA approach. The approach is based on national best practices, state-level policy and regional accreditation standards.  Working closely with both the Mississippi Community College Board and the Louisiana Community and Technical College System is a key aspect of the NCTN’s multi-stake-holder strategy.  Other activities include coaching, offering professional development activities for campus, state leaders, and faculty, developing tools and resources to promote PLA, and engaging faculty to expand the methods in which prior learning can be assessed. Formative evaluation processes conducted by the NCTN help to ensure the success of this effort.

In addition to strengthening PLA policies and practices, NCTN is also helping the Consortium colleges to better assess, strengthen, align, leverage, and coordinate the array of campus and community support services that foster student persistence. Building on a foundation of current research and evidence- based practices, the focus of this work is on identifying and developing new practices, procedures, tools, and collaborations that can be institutionalized and sustained to ensure continued student support and success beyond the life of the grant.

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

* Prior learning is learning that one acquires outside of a formal academic setting. PLA is the process by which one’s experiential learning is evaluated for the granting of college-level credit, certification, or advanced standing toward further education.  Honoring the college-level learning gleaned from learners’ military experience, training, community service and employment is a significant strategy aimed at accelerating academic and credential achievement. For details, see www.cael.org.

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