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Chapter IV: bridge program implementation and management.

Staffing

Assign Roles and Responsibilities

To implement an effective bridge program, staff members will need clear responsibilities so that they are accountable for key functions and have clear roles in a team effort to move students through training to a career path. It is also important to define the staff functions so that there are clear linkages among them. The program design, showing the relationship of the major components, provides a starting point for identifying the required functions. The program designers will then be able to group the functions in specific positions.

Table 4, pp. 78-79, presents a generic list of staff positions, responsibilities, and functions for both community colleges and community-based organizations. However, the list of positions represents an ideal that may be beyond the reach of most organizations, so it is important to focus on the functions, which are critical to a program's success. Also, the functions on the list may be filled by different organizations.

The list of functions provides a basis for assessing the current staffing structure to determine what functions are already in place, what positions may be modified, and what new positions are needed. In large organizations, the functions will be spread among different positions, departments, and divisions. In such cases, a clear definition of functions and tasks will help determine which functions may be consolidated and how to integrate the work of the others into the bridge program through clear communication, processes, and procedures. It is important to note that several of these positions may not exist in community colleges, or if they do, it may be difficult for bridge programs to secure a regular commitment of some of their time. Strong leadership support may be necessary to help secure dedicated staff time. In any case, the program coordinator should take the necessary time to orient staff to the bridge concept and to build an integrated team as the program is implemented. It might be helpful to refer back to the list of benefits of bridge programs for internal and external partners and students presented in figure 5: Benefits of Bridge Training, p. 14.

All staff, including the core team, support employees, and the staff of partnering organizations, should thoroughly understand the purpose of the program, their roles and responsibilities, the roles and responsibilities of others, and how they fit into the bigger picture. This may be done in an orientation or workshop.

Although the organization's leadership may not be directly involved in the design or day-to-day operation of the bridge program, it is important to gain their buy-in and support. This may involve marketing the program to them in memos and meetings. Presentations should convey the purpose of the program, how it supports the organization's mission, expected results, how it will be funded, and what the leader could do for the program. Periodic updates regarding successes, challenges, issues, and recommended solutions are critical. Other techniques are described in "Promoting, Recruiting for, and Marketing the Bridge Program," pp. 81-82.

Find the Right Instructors

Good instructors are the key to the success of any bridge program. They must impart real skills that translate to increased employability and educational mobility. Thus, core teams must recognize and hire innovative and motivated instructors with experience teaching the program's target population and who have firsthand experience and insight into the world of work. Instructors for a field-specific bridge program should also have knowledge of the particular sector.

Instructor Duties, Qualifications, and Recruitment

The instructor's primary responsibility is to see that students actually learn the skills and competencies they will need to be successful on the job and at the next educational level. In addition, instructors need to work with other program staff to deliver a clear and continuous stream of student-specific services. Therefore, instructors need to:

* Adjust the curriculum to meet student needs

* Integrate experiential (hands-on) and team learning activities into curriculum

* Have knowledge of entry-level work environments, the career-path framework concept, and education and job-advancement opportunities

* Work with other bridge program team members to innovate new approaches to integrate basic skills, career exploration, and/or technical skills instruction

* Conduct ongoing evaluations of the curriculum and document changes

* Keep complete records of student progress

* Communicate student issues to appropriate program staff regularly

Depending upon the type of bridge program, the right set of teachers may be a mix of skilled reading and math instructors and technical experts from industry, or trainers or faculty with industry knowledge. Such a mix will require that instructors have opportunities to share their skills with each other so that the more academic instructors gain knowledge of the targeted sector, and technical experts can learn new teaching approaches and techniques that are sensitive to adults' education needs.

The central instructor qualification is the ability to connect with students in such a way that they learn new skills. Instructors must have excellent interpersonal skills and the sensitivity and strategies to motivate and support the targeted population. To find appropriate instructors for a bridge program, organizations must pursue many avenues. Usually, instructor recruitment means identifying existing faculty and trainers from across the organization who might be interested and qualified, as well as getting in touch with organizations that have extensive contact with training and trainers in both the industrial and adult education fields. To evaluate whether potential instructors are able to teach in context and function as learning coaches, ask them to prepare a demonstration lesson and conduct it for the hiring group. Candidates can be given a specific topic concept or principle or be allowed to select one. This is a more revealing method than asking potential teachers to answer a list of questions.

Instructor Orientation

Once appropriate instructors have been hired, it is important to integrate them into the bridge program to build a consistent understanding of the underlying philosophy, techniques, goals, and objectives, and to clarify expectations and procedures. This may be done at the level of the group and the individual.

Because the bridge program involves so many new approaches, it will be important to build a shared understanding of its principles and methods and of the fact that success will require a departure from current practices. This can be done through one or more orientation workshops focusing on these program elements:

* Substance of the bridge program, e.g., the career-path framework, the target audience, curriculum development, use of adult learning techniques, evaluating student progress

* Organization and structure, including all partners and their roles, timelines, communication protocols

* Procedures and expectations, including schedules of meetings, reports, registration, and student conferences

The orientation workshops should emphasize that the program approach is new and exciting, and show how and why it differs from more traditional methods. Workshops will be most successful if they are highly interactive and participatory. Simulations of key program activities that allow instructors to experience the program from a student's perspective, role play, and solve the range of problems that will inevitably emerge can be very effective.

Figure 14 is an example of a class assignment from a two-week summer training course for adult education instructors in the Workforce Preparation Academy at the City Colleges of Chicago.

Promoting, Recruiting for, and Marketing the Bridge Program

This section focuses on positioning bridge programs and developing appealing, stimulating messages about them. It offers points for promoting the program to partners and others, and for recruiting students. When marketing, it is important to let potentially interested audiences know that the bridge program connects students to higher learning and to a career in a manner that is interesting and designed to meet students' needs.

Promote the Bridge Program

Every interaction about the development and implementation of a bridge program is, in fact, a form of program promotion. Bridge programs need to be "sold" in a number of ways. Initially and throughout the program design and development, the bridge program idea needs to be promoted within the lead institution. The bridge approach is new to many faculty and administrators--it requires many new and different approaches to teaching methodologies, course sequences, student enrollment process, support services for students, and funding. (Resistance within the institution in the early stages of development and implementation is not unusual and makes early and ongoing communication a necessity.)

For many institutions, bridge programs will essentially serve students in a new way that needs to be clearly articulated. Promotion of the bridge program, therefore, needs to be designed to include the following points in a simple one- or two-page document:

* Clear statement of why the organization wants and needs to offer this type of program

* Identification of specific populations who will be served by the program and a description of their needs/challenges

* A definition of the bridge program elements and the departments/divisions responsible for delivering them

* Examples of other successful programs

* A timetable for when the program will begin

* Clear statements of what is required from institutional participants for the program to be successful

Ideally, the promotion activities will encompass the following types of things:

* Individual and small group meetings with senior administrators where all of the above-mentioned points would be covered.

* Identification of key players in the delivery of bridge programs. These individuals need to be brought in early through one-on-one meetings and eventually larger group meetings. Areas for potential inclusion are credit programs, adult education, continuing education, workforce development, contract training, counseling/career services, registration, and financial aid. Again, the elements mentioned above would be covered.

* Meetings with faculty members and academic and support-services departments to acquaint them with the needs of the bridge program students and the institution's desire to move in this direction.

* Regular, brief written updates to keep key people informed about the development of the bridge program.

* Meetings with prospective employer partners and industry associations.

* Feature articles in relevant local (institution) publications.

Recruit Students to the Bridge Program

Recruitment refers to efforts aimed at potential individual students. The key to determining the depth and breadth of recruitment, and potentially marketing activities, will rest on the program size.

Get in touch with potential students through:

* Presentations and flyers to students who would normally be placed in adult education or developmental education classes

* Visits by bridge program instructors to adult education classes, including ESL classes, and to developmental classes--face-to-face contact is often the best recruitment device

* Identification of college students who have not yet declared majors

* Use of counselors and others who might provide other types of program information and social services to potentially eligible students

* Information sessions in places where potential students are likely to be found--this might include one-stop career centers, schools, churches, community-based organizations, union halls, etc.; ideally, these sessions would involve and engage faculty members

* Regular contact with unemployment offices, other government agencies, churches, community-based organizations, and community colleges

* Employers whose entry-level workers need additional skills/education to work more effectively and be eligible for promotion

* Other training/education programs that might serve as feeders to the bridge program

* High schools and alternative high school diploma-completion programs

Market the Bridge Program

One of the most important early activities in program marketing is to create a name for the program that lets potential students know it is different than other programs. This is where the messaging begins. Examples from the programs profiled at the end of this guide include:

* WAGE Pathways Bridge Program

* Digital Bridge Academy

* College Gateway Program

Other messages that must be delivered through recruitment and marketing channels are:

* Clear statements of how the program will benefit the student and what the student will get as a result of completing it

* Curriculum elements outlined in a simple manner, with graphics, so the student can easily follow the sequence and logic of the coursework

* Specific descriptions of course schedules to let students know there is flexibility

* Availability of support services to help students with some of their most vexing issues, such as transportation and scheduling

* Examples of other students who have completed the same, or similar, programs and are now doing well in a job of their choosing

If it is appropriate, messages should be written in languages other than English to reinforce the point that the program is designed to meet people where they are.

Marketing strategies will ensure that information about the program is communicated broadly. This is primarily required if there is a shortage of qualified students identified during the recruitment process. It is important to design a marketing strategy that will reach the target audience for the program. Potential marketing strategies include:

* The development of brochures and/or flyers that can be mailed, posted in key locations, etc.

* Ads in local papers and on radio

* Feature stories in newspapers and on radio, highlighting the bridge program opportunities and individual success stories

The Portland Community College/Mt. Hood Community College training team for the Career Pathways Vocational Training for Non-Native English Speakers includes a full-time education coordinator, a full-time employment specialist, a part-time office assistant, a part-time director, and a part-time education coordinator. Part-time trainers teach occupational and technical skills, and part-time training assistants provide small-group supports for job search and computer skills. The program serves 120 to 150 students a year, in eight to 12 classes, with 12 to 15 students per class.

Figure 14: Workforce Preparation Academy Class Assignment

Topic: Job Search and Job Applications

Finding an appropriate job and submitting an application for it are complicated endeavors. In order to experience what our students encounter in the job-search process, and to prepare for Thursday's session on job search and job application, please complete the following assignment for Thursday:

* Find two entry-level jobs for which our ABE/GED or ESL students might apply (preferably in two of the critical skills shortage career areas-healthcare, manufacturing, service, or transportation).

* Use whatever means you would normally use to find these jobs-Internet, networking, classified ads, "Help Wanted" signs in windows, etc.

* Complete a hard-copy application for one job.

* Submit one an on-line application for a second job.

* Bring copies of both applications (if possible; you may not be able to get a copy of the online application, but try to get one), as well as the job descriptions or advertisements with you to class on Saturday, October 9.

* Also bring a list of the steps (1, 2, 3, etc.) that you took to locate the jobs for which you applied and to describe the process you went through to submit the application.

* Write a paragraph of three (3) to five (5) sentences that describes what you learned as a result of this experience, and bring this to Thursday's class with you, as well.

WPADI Application Assignment #1 Developed by Cynthia A. Barnes, Ph.D. City Colleges of Chicago 2004

Toni Henle, Women Employed Institute

Davis Jenkins, University of Illinois at Chicago Great Cities Institute

Whitney Smith, Chicago Jobs Council
Table 4: Staff Positions, Responsibilities, and Functions

 POSITION RESPONSIBILITIES AND FUNCTIONS

President/ * Provide leadership in building support and
Executive understanding of the bridge program internally
Director and externally
 * Provide organizational support
 * Require accountability for advancement outcomes
 * Be an internal and external champion
 * Mention bridge programs in speeches, newsletters,
 and meetings
 * Attend graduations
 * Support fundraising efforts
 * Meet with key stakeholders (particularly
 employers)
 * Advocate for needed policies to decision-makers

Dean/ * Promote and help develop the bridge program's
Director model of teaching and learning
 * Promote understanding, buy-in, cooperation, and
 faculty participation
 * Provide assistance and guidance in developing,
 managing, and sustaining the program
 * Facilitate linkages to advanced training and
 education
 * Ensure that the bridge program is an integral
 part of the division's or department's functions
 * Provide resources, staff, and support for
 fundraising
 * Facilitate meetings to help integrate bridge
 program principles into all activities related
 to its operation and success

Program Manager * Plan, manage, and monitor all aspects of the
or Coordinator program, including staff and partnerships
 * Ensure that all staff have the required skills
 and knowledge to do their jobs
 * Develop and manage partnerships
 * Develop and maintain employer relationships
 * Provide initial training and orientation for
 staff and instructors
 * Support staff and provide feedback in writing
 and in one-on-one meetings
 * Coordinate with student services
 * Establish a communication system
 * Require and maintain accurate records of student
 and staff progress
 * Hold regular meetings with staff, partners, and
 leaders
 * Prepare progress reports for leaders,
 supervisors, funders, and partners
 * Inform stakeholders and customers of progress
 and results
 * Raise funds to support the program
 * Coordinate with evaluators

Recruitment and * Provide all pre-program activities, including
Intake marketing, recruiting, providing information,
Specialist assessing interest and capacity, and assisting
 students to select the most appropriate program
 * Maintain and distribute up-to-date information/
 marketing materials
 * Respond to inquiries
 * Maintain program information
 * Hold information sessions
 * Administer and analyze assessments
 * Assist students in selecting courses and
 registering

Career Services * Help students develop and pursue career and
Advisor learning plans
 * Work closely with the placement coordinator (see
 below)
 * Provide information about education and training
 opportunities, careers, and jobs
 * Identify financial aid opportunities for
 education and training (or make referrals)
 * Help students determine which jobs are good
 steps to careers
 * Help interested students explore advanced
 education/training opportunities
 * Establish relationships with relevant educational
 organizations

Instructors * Develop, deliver, and continuously improve
 curriculum and lessons
 * Participate in student recruitment
 * Support the efforts of all students and evaluate
 student performance
 * Submit reports
 * Prepare lesson plans
 * Teach courses
 * Coordinate experiential learning activities
 * Invite outside speakers
 * Evaluate performance
 * Advise students on progress and recommend steps
 to solve any issues
 * Track attendance and progress

Learning Coach * Provide tutoring
 * Support study groups

Placement * Solicit employment and internship opportunities
Coordinator * Help define qualifications
 * Screen students
 * Assist students with applications
 * Follow up with students and employers
 * Research appropriate companies
 * Establish contacts with employers and other
 workforce intermediaries
 * Maintain job and internship data
 * Assist students with job search and applications
 * Help students set long-term employment goals
 * Review expectations for specific jobs, employers,
 and assignments
 * Establish manager/supervisor contacts for each
 internship and placement
 * Make regular follow-up calls to the manager/
 supervisor and the new employee, and respond to
 their calls and concerns
 * Regularly collect employer evaluations
 * Communicate with other staff to discuss student
 issues and opportunities
 * Troubleshoot employer recruitment and placement
 issues
 * Coordinate with service coordinators as
 appropriate

Case Manager/ * Assist students in resolving non-educational
Service personal issues that affect learning and program
Coordinator completion
 * Help students solve problems independently
 * Identify need for intervention
 * Conduct intake interviews to identify possible
 barriers to success
 * Construct individual service plans with students
 * Establish relationships with organizations that
 offer support services
 * Conduct regular conferences with students to
 discuss progress and identify needs for
 additional assistance
 * Maintain individual case files
COPYRIGHT 2005 Women Employed Institute
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Bridges to Careers for Low-Skilled Adults: A Program Development Guide
Geographic Code:1U3IL
Date:Jan 1, 2005
Words:3072
Previous Article:Chapter III: bridge program costs and funding.
Next Article:Chapter V: bridge program evaluation and continuous improvement.
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