As technological innovations continue to reinvent the workplace, jobs evolve and workers need new skills to be effective. By 2020, almost three-quarters of new jobs will require some level of post-secondary education, says Patty Erjavec, president of Pueblo Community College (PCC). That means many local employers need workers with new skills or current employees to undergo additional training, and Pueblo Community College is prepared to meet those needs with its new Pueblo Corporate College.
In 2015, the college launched this new division that blends PCC’s credit and non‐credit instructional programs to better address the training needs of companies, adult learners and the entire community. The corporate college offers customized corporate training and consulting; professional development and continuing education; state department training and development; lifelong learning; business and entrepreneurial training and consulting; simulation training and extended studies for health care professionals; youth programs; and bridge programs that develop pathways for students to turn training and work experience into a certificate or degree.
"For us, it is about providing a leading-edge, trendsetting, affordable means of addressing the jobs issue," Erjavec says. "We can provide unique teaching environments and cost-effective customized training opportunities that remove excuses and offer alternatives so that a diverse body of students have the opportunities to acquire the skill set to rise out of poverty and achieve well-paying jobs, and local businesses and industry partners obtain a skilled workforce that makes them globally competitive."
Making a Difference
For years, PCC has worked to meet the workforce development needs of employers in the surrounding region, but the new Pueblo Corporate College combines those efforts into one more visible division to provide a greater impact. Traditionally, three separate programs have worked to meet various workforce training needs: Community Education & Training, Economic & Workforce Development and the Small Business Development Center.
While all three of these programs have a history of success, they have been "somewhat hidden" from the broader community, Erjavec says. However, more than 2,000 learners benefit from those programs annually, and that number is expected to grow by combining the three programs under the shared mission of Pueblo Corporate College.
After its first year, Pueblo Corporate College is already making strides. It has developed customized training and small-business development for customers in advanced manufacturing, construction, financial service, entrepreneurship, health, energy, hospitality and events, transportation and distribution, water and wastewater, and agriculture, Erjavec says.
Pueblo Corporate College also has earned recognition on state and national levels for the work it's doing in the local community. For instance, the college was selected to receive the National Council for Continuing Education & Training’s 2015 Exemplary Program Award.
In both 2015 and 2016, the college's mobile learning labs initiative was a finalist for the Community College Futures Assembly’s prestigious Bellwether Award, which honors community colleges for developing cutting-edge programs that other colleges might find worth replicating. And PCC's Southern Colorado Small Business Development Center won the 2016 U.S. Small Business Administration’s SBDC Excellence and Innovation Center Award for its region. The SBDC operates under the mission and vision of Pueblo Corporate College to meet the goal of providing business and entrepreneurial training and consulting.
As PCC continues to pursue its goals, adult learners and the local community will all benefit.
"The personal benefits for our stakeholders will be healthier lifestyles, higher standards of living, rewarding careers, breaking the cycle of poverty, and modeling for our children the importance of an education," Erjavec says. "The community impact will be the ability to attract better jobs, lower unemployment rates, lower incarceration rates, reduced health-care costs, and an overall strengthened economic vitality."