Community of Practice: Q1 2022 Work-Based Learning Meeting Report

On February 18, Colorado Succeeds convened its Community of Practice (CoP) to learn about the nuts and bolts of an apprenticeship program built by Centura Health (Centura) and Arapahoe Community College (ACC). Fifteen Colorado Succeeds corporate members, representing diverse industries including healthcare, aerospace, and tech participated in the quarterly meeting.

The discussion, led by Centura’s Talent Partnership Consultant, Jaime Pearson, centered around themes of employer investment to create a competitive advantage in talent as well as finding innovative and entrepreneurial higher education partners, like ACC. Centura Health has one of the most successful apprenticeship programs in the state, partnering with ACC to develop a talent pipeline of Medical Assistants and other healthcare occupations.

125 participants moving through Centura’s Medical Assistant pathway at ACC

58% of cohort is diverse

74% of cohort are first-generation college attendees

The overall retention for graduated cohorts is extremely high for the industry and the specific position, indicating that producing your own talent is a more cost-effective and operationally effective strategy than just hiring on the open market, especially given the current talent pipeline shortages. 

ACC’s Eric Dunker, Associate Vice President and Dean, spoke to the need for community colleges and other higher education institutions to be more nimble and entrepreneurial to serve the needs of learners and employers. ACC was able to attract investment for this program not only from Centura, but also from various state, federal, and foundation funding sources to stand up a program that is now starting to scale. In addition, Eric ensured that internal processes inside of ACC didn’t inhibit a novel approach to employer partnerships in terms of the apprentices getting college credit along with their MA credentials. Many employers see relevant college credit as an attractive component of a work-based learning program, but often feel stymied by complex rules around getting credit for work experience. 

Incentives for employer-led work-based learning and making higher ed more responsive to workforce credentialing needs, both initiatives Colorado Succeeds is leading in 2022, came up as welcome developments for businesses looking to build talent pipelines. Both business and higher education representatives in the meeting discussed a need to make work-based learning programs and partnership with institutions of higher ed easier to launch and more cost-effective to run so as to scale and produce more in-demand talent around the state.

If you are an employer looking for a competitive advantage in talent, consider joining Colorado Succeeds as a member. Only Colorado Succeeds members get to participate in the Community of Practice. You’ll learn from the top employer-led programs on how to implement successful strategies that others learned the hard way. You also get to provide feedback that shapes policy and help advocate to make Colorado’s education-to-workforce system more innovative and responsive to employer needs, all while creating more opportunities for young people.

The Community of Practice is sponsored by Orica, a global mining and infrastructure solutions provider. Their support is critical to expanding work-based learning inside employers across the state of Colorado through Colorado Succeeds.

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