RCC Corporate and Community Education Department prepares students for jobs
Freddy Gonzales loves to talk, especially when the subject is education, and the many students he has met and helped to improve their lives. From his cramped second floor office in the Administration Building at Roxbury Community College, Gonzales described one woman’s journey from receiving public assistance to a career as a phlebotomy technician, just one of the numerous certificate programs offered through the Corporate and Community Education Department.
Gonzales is more than enthusiastic as he described the purpose of both the corporate side and the community side of the department’s work. “On the corporate education side what we do is work with employers and businesses in the greater Boston area to identify the training needs of their employers,” Gonzales explained. After identifying specific training needs of employers, that information is brought “back to the College” where “customized training solutions” are developed to meet the needs of employers.
“For example, we could be working with a hospital looking to increase productivity or develop certain sets of skills for supervisors or they may be looking for pathways to move people to other career levels or they may be looking at training some employees to become nurses,” Gonzales said. The training that those employees receive — in the form of credit or non-credit courses — increases their overall value to the employer.
“We pretty much go out there and talk to businesses and establish relationships with them and identify what they are looking for in an educational partner,” Gonzales said. Gonzales and his team have worked with The Boston Medical Center, where administrators were looking for nursing training for some of its employees. And the Massachusetts Coast Guard turned to Gonzales when training on how to pilot a 1,000-ton ship was needed. “In that case,” Gonzales explained, “we ended up getting a vendor that could do the training.”
The students who receive training offered through the Corporate and Community Education Department are actual employees of various businesses. There are about 50-60 businesses that identify as corporate/employee partners of the department.
Turning to the community education side of the department’s work, Gonzales noted that they approach community businesses to not only discover what their training needs are, but to also find ways to partner around specific community needs. Gonzales said that a business is approached to find out what kind of employees are needed.
“We see what their labor force needs are, and what kinds of openings they have, and what kind of employee they are looking for,” Gonzales explained. “That information helps us to develop training programs for the community.”
He said that his department also partners with community businesses to see if businesses can provide “internships for our training programs, input for our curriculum development, participate on our different advisory committees and provide us with volunteers, shadowing opportunities and site visits.”
Gonzales and his staff frequently “go out to community-based organizations, civic organizations to find out what they, too are looking for in an educational partner because we are the community college for the area.” Gonzales said that among the things that the community needs are “access to jobs and the skills required to get those jobs.” He added, “We also found that the community needs access to technology.”
Coupling labor market analysis to information gleaned from community-based businesses and organizations, “we try and identify areas where hiring is going on and where there is forecasted job growth as well,” Gonzales said. Armed with that information, the department staff looks at what skill sets are need and then develops training programs that prepare students for those jobs.
Among the corporate education training programs are Developmental English and Math and Early Childhood Education. Community education includes Human Services Representative and Ophthalmic Medical Assistant.
Freddy Gonzales has directed the Corporate and Community Education Department for four years, and he glows with pride when he thinks of all the many students who went through one of the programs and found a life-changing experience.