Partnering with community colleges helps businesses WorkSmart

By Laura Toraldo

(February 08,2018—ANNAPOLIS, Md.) It’s an age-old saying: “Work smarter, not harder.”

The Maryland WorkSmart program embodies that adage for employers who want to provide continuing education and workforce development.

“We connect the dots and use the community colleges as a prime resource for training,” said WorkSmart Associate Director Kathleen Hebbel.

The program, founded in the summer of 2016, is a partnership between Maryland Department of Commerce and 16 local community colleges.

Hebbel said the Department of Commerce reached out to the Maryland Association of Community Colleges, a continuing-education affinity group representing all 16 community college presidents, about collaboration. The department representatives thought the colleges were a great asset and resource for Maryland businesses—the challenge was in how they could work together.  

“All sixteen presidents said, ‘You’re absolutely right,’” Hebbel recalled.

And the initiative was born.

With a focus on personalized workforce training solutions, WorkSmart is about understanding businesses’ pain points and facilitating solutions.

“Is it training? Is it hiring graduates? My job is to connect businesses to the right person who can help them,” said Hebbel.

That could mean getting the licensure or certification program needed by a business to be available at the closest institution, or even available onsite at preferred business locations. They also offer convenient options for online, video, computer-based, or self-paced instruction.

“It’s about thinking about Maryland’s community colleges first, versus an outside trainer that would fly in and fly out,” she said. “This [college] is a contact that lives in the same area and understands the people that are being trained.”

Bruce Spector from Baltimore Cyber Range appreciated the help for his company. He worked through WorkSmart to connect with four community colleges that offered strong cyber programs. That helped him connect with recent grads, get them involved in focus groups and in joining him to celebrate the grand opening of the company.

“MD WorkSmart was easy to work with, saved me multiple phone calls and connected me directly to the individuals at community colleges that I needed to work with for my business,” Spector said.

So far, more than 35 businesses have signed on with WorkSmart. Of those, 97 percent say they have been satisfied with the program.

Get involved in the program by contacting Kathleen Hebbel, 410-916-9198.

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