When RG Steel closed in Baltimore, laying off 2,000 well-paid steelworkers, Community College of Baltimore County offered workers a chance to retool. But college was a hard sell, despite federal retraining aid for displaced workers. “It’s a group of men who think college is for other people,” says Brian Penn, who runs the college’s heating, ventilating, air-conditioning, and energy technology program.
President Obama touts job retraining at community colleges to enable laid-off workers to close the “skills gap.” Mitt Romney agrees that retraining is the answer. But it hasn’t worked in Janesville, Wisconsin, where a GM plant closed four years ago. Laid-off workers who took vocational classes at a nearby technical college ended up working less and earning less than their former co-workers who didn’t go back to school. Why? There aren’t many jobs.
PBS will air As Goes Janesville: A Small Town Struggles in the Recession this evening. The documentary includes a profile of a laid-off assembly-line worker who enrolled in a Wisconsin community college to train as a medical lab technician.
Manufacturers are hiring — but they want skilled or trainable workers to run very expensive machines.
Alabama’s community colleges are mourning students killed in the devastating tornadoes. Graduation ceremonies have been postponed or cancelled.
Laid-off workers in St. Louis want short-term training programs that let them rejoin the workforce quickly. Few have the motivation or skills to earn a degree.
Also on Community College Spotlight: Students taking online community college classes are more likely to fail than students in traditional classes, concludes a Washington state study concludes.
Chinese “tiger mothers,” who demand excellence from their children, are superior to Western moms, claims Amy Chua, a Yale law professor with two high-performing daughters. More tiger children end up at community colleges than the Ivy League, writes a Pasadena Community College professor. And these kids are depressed by their failure to meet their parents’ unreasonable expectations. Some are suicidal.
Also on Community College Spotlight: Laid-off workers in Iowa are turning to community colleges for retraining, but wait lists are long for programs in health care, welding and other high-demand fields.
On Community College Spotlight: Many retraining programs don’t help laid-off workers find new jobs, but a Detroit-area community college claims a 65 percent job placement rate for laid-off auto designers who take a skills refresher course.