Common Themes

A.  Soft Skills Training
The changing and decreasing quality of employee soft skills was raised as a critical issue in nearly (if not every) forum. The following “soft” or “basic” skills were raised time and again: (1) punctuality and attendance; (2) inability to communicate professionally (oral and 2 written); (3) professional attire; (4) basic math skills; (5) basic computer skills; (6) work ethic; and (7) work / life balance. Participants shared a disconnect between employer and employee expectations. While generational differences were discussed, the disconnect does not rest solely on age disparity.

Forum participants, particularly business and industry and community members, envision the Colleges assisting in elevating the quality of employees’ soft skills through a combination of curriculum based integration, employee training and lifelong learning opportunities. Participants shared an impression that community young people are not exposed to soft skills training at home or in high school as they were in the past. Ideas for the Colleges involvement included everything from a skills checklist for graduates to management or advancement training options for business and industry.

With regard to the soft skills discussion, faculty and staff discussed how the terminology could be rephrased to focus on “accountability” or “flexibility with accountability.” While some faculty and staff initially questioned how great accountability might conflict with completion goals, conversations shifted to how accountability directly supports the mission of educators.
B.  EICC Communication
Internal and external communication concerns exist surrounding the quantity and quality of communication coming from EICC leadership. Employees (faculty and staff) shared frustration from discovering news about the Colleges in the QC Times as opposed to hearing it from their supervisors or other leadership first. There is an understandable desire from employees to “be in the know” about the Colleges. Currently there seems to be no effective internal means of communication that engages all internal stakeholders.

Remedying this situation will likely raise the level of employee satisfaction and overall morale.1 The same could be said for external constituents. The community would like to be communicated with on a more consistent basis.
C.  Elevate Quality: Technology, Curricula & Faculty
Feedback from members of Business and Industry suggest that the Colleges are not as current with industry trends as is necessary to be viewed as a strong training partner. In particular, several comments suggest that lean processing curriculum updates and technology improvements are needed. In addition, students and some employees mentioned technology deficits impacting the delivery of quality education.

All forums shared that open access cannot impact a commitment to quality as more students and businesses are asked to consider EICC as a first choice option. Stakeholders shared that the Colleges can only truly serve as the gateway for higher education if the quality of teaching, technology and curricula is elevated across all programs and all campuses.