The focus of education shifted to workforce development

To increase the talent pipeline by 2023, West Michigan colleges are increasing their offerings to help attract, retain, and prepare students to enter the state’s workforce.

Some of the most pressing needs that colleges and universities have identified ahead of 2023 include:

  • Expanded mental health programs, both for on-campus students and as an additional degree offering to prepare students for the urgent need for behavioral health professionals in the world of work
  • Increased financial support for students who cannot afford tuition fees
  • Support for non-traditional students seeking a degree
  • Prepare students to enter the workforce in fields such as healthcare that face a talent shortage

At Davenport University, President Richard Pappas said the school is taking this challenge head-on.

Currently, this involves the addition of a new mental health degree program and the expansion and continuation of the university’s “flexible” format of classes, allowing students to choose how they attend class on a day-to-day basis.

Flex, which launched in November 2022, is part of a new four-format capability called “Online+” that allows students to access classes through on-demand online classes, live streaming class offerings, a mix of in-person or virtual classes, and flex.

“We anticipate this new program will have a positive impact on long-term retention,” said Brian Kowalczk, dean for Davenport College of Technology. “Students no longer need to stop studying if the situation changes. Instead, they can change the way they attend class.”

While Davenport had offered online class options long before the 2020 pandemic changed learning needs, the university has since adapted to accommodate the growing demand for flexible class offerings. According to a university statement, nearly 98% of all Davenport students now take at least one class online. To help accommodate these students, many of whom have family, work, and personal commitments that make learning in a traditional classroom difficult, Davenport is continuing to increase its flexible online offering in 2023.

Flexible classes are just one way universities are preparing to meet the demands of learning in 2023.

Pappas also said Davenport will expand its urban education program in 2023, offering a bachelor’s degree in urban education in addition to the current master’s degree. Casa Latina, a Latin-focused program that provides bilingual degrees, will also expand in 2023, preparing for launch in Fall 2024, while Davenport’s peer mentoring program for first-generation students will continue to expand, helping all students get the support they need. . must complete their degree.

In 2023, Davenport is also expanding its mental health support to on-campus students while adding two new degrees to help students meet the growing need for mental health professionals. This coming fall, the university is adding a Master of Science in Nursing, a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner concentration and a Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling.

In an effort to make education more accessible to students, Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) communications director, David Murray, said the college will introduce two new financial aid initiatives in 2023.

Michigan Achievement Scholarships and additional resources for students attending GRCC through Michigan Reconnect will be added in 2023.

“The new Michigan Achievement Scholarship can provide future GRCC students $2,750 per year to help cover tuition costs, helping to remove financial barriers to obtaining a life-changing college education,” said Murray. “New scholarships available for graduating high school students in 2023.”

To be eligible, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form.

“Community colleges are proud to be an affordable and accessible option for students seeking quality education. But so many high school graduates continue to face financial constraints,” said GRCC Interim President Juan Olivarez. “The new Michigan Achievement Scholarship can fulfill college dreams, covering a large portion of the cost of an entire year at a community college. It’s great for students, and it also strengthens our larger community and country.”

At Calvin University, the new School of Health established in 2021 extends to the North Hall of the university.

Renovations to the North Hall, where most of the School of Health will be located, will begin soon, with the speech pathology and audiology offices and clinic moving into the space in Calvin’s 2023 spring break. Over the next two years, another phase of the plan called for renovating classrooms, more simulation labs, an expanded sports science lab, a new morgue lab, another new lab space, and a grand entrance and newly constructed atrium space, helping Calvin create an all-encompassing space for future healthcare professionals to learn.

At the same time, the Calvin Prison Initiative is preparing for a year of major changes, as an educational program get ready to add new degrees and programs to shift his focus to re-entry programs. The unique programme, which offers undergraduate, associate and certificate degrees to incarcerated individuals, developed in response to policy changes that see many students now needing workforce development support as they prepare to enter the workplace.

This story can be found in the January 9 issue of The Grand Rapids Business Journal. To get more stories like this delivered to your inbox, subscribe here.