At Hudson County Community College, the state’s Basic Skills Workforce Training Program is opening doors.
The program is free to employers and their employees, polishing employees’ skills in basic computer operations, mathematics and measurement, English as a second language, and written and verbal communications.
Ana Chapman-McCausland, executive director of the college’s Center for Business & Industry, said the program has also been a boon to her Center. Businesses or nonprofits that start with basic skills training often ask for other kinds of training, such as business management, project
management and team building.
“It opens the door for us to offer different levels of training,” Chapman explained. “The companies in Hudson County are slowly beginning to realize, ‘Hey, there’s something here for me.’”
Before arriving at the Center two years ago, she managed a training program for the City University of New York, School of Professional Studies and worked, with her staff of 22, on site at New York City’s Human Resources Administration, Office of Child Support Enforcement. The Center for Business and Industry was established in in 2000 to offer the college’s training services to the employer community.
One of Chapman’s first initiatives was to market the Basic Skills training program, which already had a track record of success at other community colleges. (Basic Skills training is offered by all 19 of the state’s community colleges.)
“It broadens the view of the community about what the college offers,” she said. “The community can see that the college is not just about credit-bearing programs.”
Over the past 18 months, the college Center has trained 645 employees with 38 companies in basic skills. Most of the companies are small and unable to afford on-site training. The most popular classes are in computers (Windows OS as well as Word and Excel) and English as a second language. An ongoing customer is Jersey City Medical Center.
Sivaraman Anbarasan, executive director of the NJ Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development, which coordinates the Basic Skills program for the colleges, said Hudson County Community College has done an excellent job leveraging the program.
“When companies come away pleased with the training their employees received in basic skills, they will return to the same community college for other kinds of training,”
Anbarasan said. “The colleges have found that this to be a great tool for expanding their community outreach.”
Hudson President Glen Gabert is an enthusiastic supporter of the Basic Skills program. “Community colleges are the first choice for businesses looking to
develop the workforce they need to compete,” he said. “This program has opened the door for small businesses and microenterprises to obtain top-notch, skills-based training for their employees—free of charge.”
The NJ Community College Consortium initiated the Basic Skills Workforce Training Program seven years ago in partnership with the NJ Department of Labor, which provides the funding, and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association, which provides business outreach. To date, the program has trained more than 62,000
employees with more than 4,200 companies.
This story was originally published in the May 2014 issue of New Jersey Business, the magazine of the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. The author is Christopher Biddle, President of Biddle Communications & Public Relations.