|BCC Restructuring Workforce Development Offerings|
|By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff|
04:00AM / Thursday, March 21, 2019
|The college is currently looking for a new dean to take over the workforce programming. |
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Community College is restructuring its workforce development arm.
The college is currently looking for a new dean who will be in charge of bringing the community education and workforce development programming under the oversight of traditional academic programming. The rest of the staff, minus an administrative assistant, will be let go at the start of the fiscal year and the new dean will determine how the non-credit course work will be administered in the future.
"We want to better align our credit and non-credit offerings. Generally, at BCC, our credit programs have been in academic divisions and our non-credit programs have been in the workforce arm. While that served well for a time, right now the way people are hired and the way higher education is, it is much more advantageous to have non-credit and credit be administrated and thought about in the same ways," Vice President of Academic Affairs Jennifer Berne said.
The concept is hoped to strengthen the non-credit programs. Right now the college offers a wide range of non-credit courses, workshops, training, and camps that residents in the community or employees of businesses can take at a reduced cost. But those courses don't count toward a degree.
"It was much more flexible. We charged students differently, they didn't have to become part of the college, didn't have to fill out an application," Berne said.
The administration of all of those offerings was independent of the academic side and the dean of workforce reported directly to the president. Now the new dean will have the community education and workforce piece as part of their academic duties, which Berne hopes will align those credit offerings much closer to academic programs.
"An academic dean is going to have a different eye on programming. They are going to think about our faculty and how our faculty can be helpful in delivering these type of programs. They will think about seeking out faculty that we don't have in the ways that we seek out credit faculty. It is really moving the administration," Berne said.
For those taking those courses, Berne said there won't be any difference when it comes to registering for courses or training. But the move will likely reduce the slate of non-credit offerings at the college.
"We are going to be able to offer different opportunities that we hadn't offered in the past. Because of that, we may stop offering some opportunities we have offered in the past," Berne said.
The college tends to create a large list of non-credit offerings and only the ones that have enough people enrolled move forward. Berne said the college will hone in on the programs that have the biggest needs -- specifically looking to build the new course load around the Berkshire Blueprint's goals of supporting the largest economic sectors in the Berkshires.
For example, Berne said the college has a new non-credit culinary program that has already gotten a lot of interest. She envisions being able to put more resources toward programs like that instead of running a number of less popular classes or courses that could be served by online vendors without BCC being involved.
"We really want to inspect our non-credit offerings in the same rigorous way we inspect our credit offerings. We want to make sure we equip the high quality faculty in both with everything they need and that they have support for curriculum building," Berne said.
Berne said the change was somewhat driven by needs in academic programming, leadership attending conferences about bringing best practices in credit to the non-credit side, and handling a reduction in resources and population. She said the hope is to become more strategic with the workforce development aspects.
"We started to have a concern that our credit and non-credit programs were too much removed from one another. That was their initial impetus for thinking about a new way to do it," she said. "We need to focus more carefully on the needs of our community and our students."
She added that the college will look for ways to further integrate the different types of students.
"We know we will be able to create opportunities for students to come in as non-credit and move over the credit and also to come in as credit and see some non-credit offerings that may support their growth," Berne said.
The new dean is expected to be brought on prior to July 1 and programs are set to continue through the summer. By the fall, the college will likely temporarily halt some of the non-credit offerings, eliminate some, and start new ones.
"This is a person who will have a background in academics and a background in community workforce development. It is an unusual position so we are excited to find somebody who fits that," Berne said.