Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Role of Community College Education in the Employment of Information Technology Workers in Washington State

"CCRC has completed a three-year study on the role of associate degrees in preparing graduates for information technology (IT) jobs in the Seattle and Detroit labor markets. Interviews with a range of employers in each labor market revealed that hiring managers expected associate degree holders to possess many positive qualities that they sought in IT technicians, particularly technical skills, thinking skills, communication skills, and a strong work ethic. However, they also expected that associate degree holders would be less skilled than bachelor’s degree holders. This expectation was particularly common among Seattle hiring managers, highlighting the importance of the local labor market in understanding employer perceptions of associate degrees. A paper on these findings will soon be available.

"An analysis of students’ employment outcomes in Washington State (see CCRC Working Paper 23) revealed that medium-sized employers, temporary placement firms, and educational organizations employed community college IT graduates more frequently than workers overall. Community college students who earned both an associate degree and a certificate in IT had the most positive employment outcomes (bold added), followed by those with an associate degree only and those with an IT certificate only. Those who earned no credential but completed concentrated coursework in IT had the weakest employment outcomes. These findings suggest that employers prefer students with more credentials, and they highlight the importance of helping students to complete full programs of study.

"This research was conducted in partnership with the National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies at Bellevue Community College (Washington State) and Macomb Community College (Michigan). The project was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education program."

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