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Del Mar College recognized among top 10 U.S. community colleges selected as finalists for Bellwether Award for Workforce Development

08

March

2024

|

18:01 PM

Europe/Amsterdam

Continuing Education Division’s collaboration with credit programs acknowledged for stackable Marketable Skills Awards that matriculate toward certificates, degrees in high-demand career fields

Article by Melinda Eddleman

DMC was one of 30 community colleges representing 18 states chosen to compete and one of two from Texas out of the 10 selected to vie for the Bellwether Award for Workforce Development.

DMC Showcases CE to Credit Initiative 1_Bellwether Award Competition 20

DMC Showcases CE to Credit Initiative 1_Bellwether Award Competition 20

The College’s CE to Credit initiative is noted for providing all students, regardless of educational level, a post-secondary education and workforce credentials that prepare them for high-demand careers in the Coastal Bend.

DMC representatives from Continuing Education and the Architecture, Aviation and Automotive Department presented “Building Our Nation’s Workforce One Stackable Credential at a Time” on Feb. 26 as part of competition against nine other colleges representing Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina (2), Texas (San Antonio College) and Virginia.

St. Louis Community College in Missouri won the Bellwether Award for Workforce Development, and the other nine competitors received a Finalist Award. The 10 colleges were assessed on their showcase table, formal presentation and a Q&A session with judges.

Being among the top 10 [colleges in this category] speaks to the very tip of the iceberg. There was a lot of hard work underneath that iceberg by the team who created this initiative; and having the rest of the nation touting our program and trying to replicate [this work[ is a special thing.

Dr. Mark Escamilla, DMC President and Chief Executive Officer

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DMC Showcases CE to Credit Initiative 2_Bellwether Award Competition 2024

DMC Showcases CE to Credit Initiative 2_Bellwether Award Competition 2024

While strategies to prepare more students for the local workforce through short-term CE occupational training had already been developed as early as 2018, the guiding question was how to move CE students toward completing a post-secondary education and workforce credentials that could lead to earning Level I and Level II certificates or an associate’s degree? Even a bachelor’s degree is possible.

The goal was to prepare ALL students for the workforce … even those who need to earn their high school equivalency. The solution was creating Workforce Skills Awards or WSAs earned through CE programs aligned with pathways developed for academic programs that address high-demand needs among Coastal Bend employers.

WSAs can be earned in less than six months through CE programs and enable students to gain entry-level positions with business and industry. WSAs are also “stackable” or convertible credentials that count toward DMC credit programs, including current high-demand fields such as automotive, building maintenance, heating, air conditioning and ventilation (HVAC), instrumentation, millwright, process technology and welding.

Since starting the CE to Credit initiative, the College has seen success and recognized over 320 WSA graduates who each completed 144 CE units or nine credit hours between 2021 and 2023 with a ceremony as well as held pinnings for those who finished health industry-related training.

Many community college CE programs across the nation are shifting more toward workforce development training. Del Mar College recognized the compelling  need to develop our innovative CE to Credit initiative to provide Coastal Bend residents greater access to post-secondary education and workforce credentialing opportunities required for the high-demand career fields supporting our region’s economy.

Dr. Leonard Rivera, Associate Vice President of Continuing Education & Off-Campus Programs

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He added, “Continuing Education and our collaboration with the College’s credit programs will ensure students reach their goals one stackable credential at a time toward a degree that will take them even further during their careers.”

DMC Among Top 10 US  Community Colleges Recognized for CE to Credit Initiative_Receives Finalist Award

DMC Among Top 10 US Community Colleges Recognized for CE to Credit Initiative_Receives Finalist Award

Del Mar College received recognition as one of the top 10 U.S. community colleges selected to compete for the Bellwether Award for Workforce Development by the Bellwether College Consortium. DMC representatives competed during the Feb. 25-27 Community College Futures Assembly in San Antonio and earned a Finalist Award for the College’s innovative Continuing Education (CE) to Credit stackable process that matriculates students’ Workforce Skills Awards earned through CE programs into aligned academic credit programs. Pictured with the award is Associate Vice President of Continuing Education & Off-Campus Programs Dr. Leonard Rivera (left); Paul Creacy, Interim Chair of the Architecture, Aviation and Automotive Department; Elizabeth Zamora, Career Training Program Manager for CE Industrial Trades; Senor Director of Continuing & Community Education Rachel Benavides; and Dr. Mark Escamilla, DMC President and Chief Executive Officer. (Credit: Bellwether College Consortium)

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.

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