MCC Daily Tribune Archive

A New Wake-Up Call for Community Colleges

America is on the cusp of a severe labor shortage, and community colleges are not immune to its effects. Tony Zeiss gives some unflinching and straightforward advice on how to attract and keep excellent community college administration, faculty, and staff in the September Leadership Abstracts.

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A New Wake-Up Call for Community Colleges

Tony Zeiss

America is about to experience the greatest labor shortage in its history. Unless your organization prepares for this impending national crisis, it will be severely restricted from meeting its mission. If you can’t afford or attract qualified nursing instructors, your college can’t teach nursing. If you can’t retain qualified administrators, your college’s leadership will weaken. Consider these facts:

* The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there will be 168
million jobs in our economy by 2011, but only 158 million workers will be available.

* American employers are facing a crisis in finding skilled workers.

* According to an Associated Press story, Seimens recently received 1,000 applicants for 500 new manufacturing jobs, but only 35 had the skills necessary to perform the job.

* America’s hospitals and public schools are already desperate for skilled workers and teachers.

Community colleges are not immune to this growing labor and skills crisis. I have written this piece as a wake-up call for community college leaders to position their colleges for success during this nation’s looming labor and skills shortage.

America is already experiencing a labor shortage, and there is a skills gap that is growing as technology jobs replace lower-skilled jobs that have become obsolete or have moved offshore. Skilled workers, of which there are already too few, are more independent and mobile than ever. If chief executive officers don’t give increased attention to the business of human resources, their strategic plans will be useless. If human resources personnel don’t understand and connect the organization’s strategic plan to their worker acquisition and professional development plans, their efforts will not be productive.

The survivors of the labor and skills shortage will be those who strategically position themselves to meet their future human resources needs. Smart colleges will prepare for and succeed in attracting, developing, and retaining peak performers throughout the tight labor market we are about to experience.

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Dr. Susan Salvador
Office for Student Services