Webinar Review: Making a Comeback

New webinar series seeks to assist higher education leaders in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March ACCT, the Education Strategy Group (ESG) and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association collaborated to launch a “Making a Comeback” webinar series to assist higher education leaders in recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This first webinar addressed how community colleges can plan for changes in the labor market catalyzed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Speakers included Teresa Lubbers, commissioner of higher education in Indiana, Todd Oldham, vice president for economic and workforce development and career and technical education at Monroe Community College in Rochester, N.Y., and Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer at Emsi (Economic Modeling Specialists, Intl.).

The recorded webinar can be viewed here.

Below is a summary of discussion highlights, as well as time-coded audience moderator and audience questions so that you can advance to the discussion of greatest interest to you.

Discussion Highlights

A key focus of the webinar was how data can inform decision making. Many adults throughout the United States are newly unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and institutions will need to retool and reimagine numerous programmatic offerings in order to effectively reskill and upskill students in search of a secure economic future. Adding a dimension of complexity is that these programmatic changes must happen not only quickly, but effectively. Unemployed people need good jobs as soon as possible.  

Questions & Answers

A number of questions posed to the speakers by moderator Matt Gandal, president and CEO of the Educational Strategy Group, dive into these issues and seek to arrive at concrete solutions and advice.  

5:55 In the face of uncertainty, how can post-secondary institutions use data for informed decision making, and are there any new steps that are being taken to continue that work during the current pandemic?

10:06 What are some specific state-level strategies that have been used to create pathways that lead to real economic opportunity?

14:10 What data sources should post-secondary leaders use right now to form a more comprehensive and dynamic picture of labor markets to inform decision making?

18:45 What data are being used at the institutional level to figure out what labor markets are going to be more in demand going forward? 

22:29 Where are the strongest opportunities for growth?

26:55 Early data during the pandemic has suggested that communities of color and low-income populations have been disproportionately impacted by job loss. What steps are currently being taken to ensure that those communities are not left further behind?

34:30 After the pandemic, there are likely going to be programs that no longer lead to strong economic opportunities. How are programs being scaled at the institutional- and state-level? 

38:40 Would you agree that this crisis has exacerbated the misalignment issues we’ve had between workforce and educational offerings?

48:30 How have grants at the state level allowed for flexibility in focusing on specific programs?

52:10 Who has the responsibility of advising out of work folks to consider a return to higher education to reskill or upskill? How are those individuals reached?

Future Webinars 

The “Making a Comeback” webinar series will continue with discussions dedicated to (June 3) contingency planning for fall and (dates to be announced) anticipating fall enrollments and upskilling to get people back to work.

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