Learn how Maryland's Eastern Shore colleges and universities work with economic development and business leaders to stay abreast of and quickly close talent shortages.
The secret to attracting and retaining top businesses often lies in the ability to provide access to a highly skilled workforce. That’s why colleges and universities on the Eastern Shore are establishing cooperative, innovative programs to close industry talent gaps. As one of the nation’s oldest colleges, Washington College in Chestertown plays a vital role in workforce development efforts. Through the college’s Center for Career Development, students participate in workshops that teach them to construct resumes, hone job interview skills, write professional letters and network.
“We invite companies to campus to conduct interviews for internships and jobs, and host more than 50 organizations at our annual Career Fair,” says Kay MacIntosh, former director of media relations for Washington College. “We invite companies to conduct class visits to integrate classroom learning and experiential learning, and we offer a free lifetime service to alumni with job searches and career changes.”
On campus, students gain real- world experience through courses such as the Brown Advisory Student-Managed Investment Fund Program, which gives business students an opportunity to use their investment skills in real-life scenarios.The college’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program operates the Maryland Crime Mapping and Analysis Program, which gives students experience creating 3-D models and using geospatial computer mapping for crime and traffic analysis. It employs 90 students under the direction of program coordinator Stewart Bruce.
Cecil College in North East works closely with the local workforce investment board and regional businesses to tailor certificate and degree programs to meet the needs of emerging industries, particularly those related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). “Advisory boards work closely with our programs to ensure emerging workforce needs are addressed,” says Cecil College President Dr. Mary Way Bolt. “And we embarked on a comprehensive outreach and public awareness campaign to build a robust pipeline of students interested in STEM programs.”The college has also expanded efforts to bring four-year partners onto campus, allowing students to complete a baccalaureate degree close to home. Frostburg State University offers a bachelor of science degree in materials science engineering through the college, and the University of Maryland offers a bachelor’s in business management. Longstanding partners Salisbury and Wilmington universities provide degree programs for Cecil College students.
For 50 years, Chesapeake College in Wye Mills has served the Eastern Shore and offers certificates and associate degrees in disciplines from engineering technology to health care. “With an increasingly aging population, there’s a need for more access to health care,” says Maureen Gilmartin, dean for career and professional studies. “We’re responding, not only by increasing the size of our health-care programs, but also by exploring new program offerings – for instance, home health care and geriatric occupational therapy.”
Michael Dugan, dean for continuing education and workforce training at Chesapeake College, says most of the college’s training programs are tied to the needs of the community and local employers. “We partner with businesses in a number of different ways,” Dugan says. “Sometimes they’ll comeoutandaskustodoa contract training program for a group of their employees, but it’s always market-driven – to be in front of demand.”
Chesapeake College also partners with area high schools to offer dual-enrollment courses and with other colleges and universities. The Eastern Shore Higher Education Center gives students access to undergraduate and graduate degree courses from six participating four-year institutions, including Stevenson University and the historically black University of Maryland Eastern Shore. For its part, UMES is responding to the region’s need for workers skilled in STEM fields by encouraging more female students of color to study and teach science. “In 2016, we expect a $93 million classroom building to be ready for instruction in STEM,” says Dominick Murray, UMES executive director of business and economic development. Salisbury University, located in nearby Wicomico County, also places a strong emphasis on STEM education as well as entrepreneurship programs. Its Ratcliffe Shore Hatchery, housed in the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business, supports student entrepreneurs through $200,000 a year in grants and events that allow them to compete for seed funding for their startups.