Amidst shifting consumer demands, the challenges posed by climate change, and the impact of high inflation, businesses are left to reassess their services and the readiness of their employees. At the same time, recent graduates grapple with the uncertainty of securing fulfilling, well-paying employment. To address these challenges, fostering partnerships between community colleges and local industries becomes pivotal, allowing educational institutions to tailor programs to meet the specific needs of students and their prospective employers. The Ventura County Community College District (VCCCD) exemplifies this approach, enriching the lives of students and fortifying the local economy by building meaningful relationships with industry partners.

Moorpark College, for example, collaborates with local biopharmaceutical and medical device companies, such as Thermo Fisher, PBS Biotechnology, and ECA Medical, to continuously improve their Biotechnology program. Through the program’s advisory board, representatives from over a dozen companies meet to provide feedback on courses, share new trends students should be trained in, and suggest new industry-standard equipment that their future employees need experience with. Businesses also help contribute to transitioning students from the classroom to the workplace through internships. By partnering with the college, businesses help students gain relevant industry experience while earning class credit. Additionally, through grant funding, the college can pay qualifying students for their intern work, supporting those who otherwise could not afford to take an unpaid position. Through these partnerships, the program equips students to start careers in biomanufacturing upon graduation.

Oxnard College similarly collaborates with industry leaders to broaden opportunities for students to gain practical industry experience during their studies. Hosting the Laborers International Union of North America (LiUNA) Local 585 youth apprenticeship program, the college provides students with real-world experience in the trades, coupled with access to campus resources and academic programs. Additionally, the Computer Networking/Information Technology (CNIT) program actively engages with nearby companies like Western NRG, Anacapa Micro, and Haas Automation, offering hands-on experience in dynamic areas such as cybersecurity. These programs empower students to earn degrees and certifications that propel them into promising careers with the support of the community and robust industry partnerships. This holistic approach enriches the educational journey and prepares students for the demands of their respective industries.

Ventura College’s Nursing and Certified Nursing Assistant programs forge partnerships with local hospitals and post-acute care facilities, addressing the acute nursing shortage throughout California. There is great need to train and graduate skilled nurses, but college programs are limited by the availability of clinical placement sites and the availability of faculty. Partnering with local facilities like Community Memorial Hospital (CMH) resolves both issues—students train and learn the policies, procedures, and equipment in facilities where they will likely be employed, and adjunct faculty are hired from the hospital staff, providing expertise and guidance to create a cohort of nurses prepared for success. In addition, employees with the licensed vocational nurse (LVN) credential at these facilities who want to upskill can receive training through the college to become registered nurses and advance their careers. Such partnerships create a seamless path from graduation to employment, connecting employers with highly prepared new hires.

Businesses seeking to enhance the skills of their current employees can collaborate with VCCCD Economic and Workforce Development to create trainings tailored to their precise needs and corporate goals. These comprehensive courses are designed to elevate employees' proficiency in specialized areas, such as Advanced Manufacturing skills and Leadership and Team Management, contributing to the overall competitiveness and adaptability of the workforce. The collaborative efforts between businesses and Economic and Workforce Development exemplify a strategic approach to skill enhancement, fostering a workforce equipped for the challenges of the evolving industry landscape.

As local industries navigate the complexities of a changing economy, Ventura County community colleges emerge as proactive contributors, providing training and job development to build a strong and adaptable workforce. By partnering with industry leaders, the Ventura County community colleges are not just providing education; they are offering a path to a prosperous future. These strategic alliances between academia and local businesses are a testament to the colleges’ commitment to nurturing talent, building careers, and uplifting the communities they serve. Businesses interested in partnering with the Ventura County community colleges can contact Brenda Acomb Forbes, Director of Economic and Workforce Development.

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