Preparing college students for today’s economy and job market demands partnerships and collaborations.
Classwork and homework is a strong foundation, but it’s no longer enough. Students need real-world experience and networking opportunities through internships, on-the-job training, and other initiatives that create funnels directly to good jobs after graduation.
U.S. Sen. Al Franken deserves praise for seeing that, and working to help out.
The Minnesota Democrat plans to introduce a proposal this month that would let colleges and universities apply for grants to fund new community collaborations to close the so-called skills gap -- the problems some companies have in finding workers with adequate training. Priority would be given to those that address the sectors of greatest need, like health care, advanced manufacturing, clean energy, and information technology.
We know there are all kinds of conflicting opinions on the scope of the skills gap, but there's no arguing that it's not good policy to kick college kids out into the real world well before they don a cap and gown.
Franken’s support of partnerships is a great idea.
We bet that as he tries to sell his bill, he could use some examples to bolster his case.
So we invite the senator to visit Winona to see some of the fruitful partnerships that community and education leaders have already built.
The composite engineering and on-site nursing degree programs at Winona State University.
The tailored on-site apprenticeships, as well as the continuing education and workforce training at Southeast Technical College.
The internships that all three of Winona’s colleges have built with local companies.
The growing collaboration among Winona’s colleges and public schools to create a nimbler curriculum tailored to preparing students at increasingly younger ages for higher education.
Franken’s bill would limit the grant program to community colleges and two-year universities. With the demonstrated success of partnerships at four-year universities here, we believe the bill should go further and create a separate grant program for four-year universities.
Partnerships and collaborations are key to students’ future successes--not to mention key to building healthy communities by welcoming students into a college, then ensuring them a direct path into a desirable local job after graduation.
When it comes to investing in them, all-in is the best approach.
By Brian Voerding, editor, on behalf of the Winona Daily News editorial board, which also includes Publisher Rusty Cunningham and Deputy Editor Jerome Christenson.