If you were paging through the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book after it came out Wednesday afternoon (because, hey, it can actually be pretty colorful), you may have noticed a passage in the St. Louis Fed section saying that investment in technical training has increased in that district.
The bank mentioned that community colleges are partnering with businesses and obtaining high-end equipment to better prepare workers. Training for a particular job hasn’t always gotten the love or attention or funding that traditional ivy-clad institutions have. But in this tight labor market that seems to be changing.
Hospitals in West Tennessee need more registered nurses, EMTs and surgical technicians.
“[Surgical technicians] are the people who essentially are the surgeons’ right hand in the operating room,” said Scott Cook, president of Dyersburg State Community College — which is located in Tennessee, in the St. Louis Fed’s district.
Hospitals are turning to Dyersburg State to train these workers. So Cook expects more state funding so that he can hire additional healthcare faculty. “The more personnel we have, the better we can serve our students, the better we can serve our community,” he said.
There has been more state funding overall for technical and community colleges, according to Charlotte Cahill with the nonprofit Jobs for the Future.
“Because of the perception that they were best positioned to support students through some of the labor market shocks that we were seeing during the pandemic,” she said.
But it can be hard for employers and schools to get on the same page about what skills a worker needs. Yeah, any EMT needs to know how to take blood pressure. But in a field like information technology? It’s not quite as clear-cut.
“The sector is changing so quickly that very often credentials aren’t fully keeping up with employers hiring needs,” Cahill said.
Still, it’s nice that career and technical education, or CTE, is getting more attention.
“There was a point in time where CTE was actually almost a bad word,” said Nicole Smith with Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “They saw career and technical education as a place for the others.”
Now, it’s a place for everyone.
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