We recently announced that the National Convergence Technology Center (CTC) has been funded for another five years. This $3.9 million renewal grant, which officially began in July, will welcome two new partners and focus on developing regional “hubs” around grant partner schools. The goal is to give those hubs the tools, relationships, and infrastructure to continue the National CTC’s workforce education mission long after it closes in 2022.
In addition to establishing these regional hubs for their areas, each partner will also be responsible for the following four goals:
- Implementing student portfolios in at least one second year course and tracking the impact they have on employment through surveys and interviews. Our National Business and Industry Leadership Team (BILT) has long advocated the value of student portfolios in IT job interviews to help showcase technical skills and critical thinking. The renewal grant will allow the National CTC to explore this question: how much more likely will a student with a portfolio be hired compared to one without a portfolio?
- Leveraging CTC “Diversity Summit” activities to help regional colleges increase success with women and minorities. This pilot program started in February with a cohort of ten schools looking to increase enrollment numbers for under-served populations by employing specific diversity strategies over the course of 12 months. The hope is that every partner will eventually support this effort by using “Diversity Summit” best practices to improve recruiting and retention at their own school.
- Establishing/enhancing stackable certificates to enable students to grow skills in new technologies and track completion data annually. Stackable certificates help boost completion numbers for schools by offering shorter, more niche programs that students can finish quickly. This can be especially appealing for students working full-time who are looking to learn new skills in a rapidly-changing industry. But stackable certificates also give students the flexibility to string those shorter certificates together (or “stack” one on top of another) in pursuit of a larger degree.
- Recruiting high schools and colleges/universities to be involved in the new regional hubs. As the IT workplace grows more complex, traditional, foundational IT skills are no longer enough for entry-level workers. More and more, students will need to learn IT in all three environments: high schools, community colleges, and four-year universities. These regional hubs will spearhead this innovation into “2+2+2” programs that will better prepare students for IT careers.
Beyond those goals, select partners will offer specific expertise or supervision of additional topics:
- El Centro College and Fox Valley Technical College will lead grant efforts for outreach (recruitment, retention and completion) to women and Hispanic minorities.
- Lone Star College (the first of two new partners) will act as lead for secure coding curriculum.
- Georgia Southern University will update 1-2 classroom/online curriculum per national BILT direction.
- The University of North Texs will continue its workexpanding its Bachelor of Arts in IT (BA-IT), moving courses online to reach students across the country and sharing its unique model with at least five universities a year in hopes of further adoption.
- Sinclair Community College (the second of two new partners) will offer guidance on the complex CAE2Y certification process.