Talent Dividend Work

CEOs band together to help meet workforce needs

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This past academic year, Grand Rapid Community College awarded more credentials – certificates and associate's degrees – than it ever has before. A large part of that is due to an effort spearheaded by Talent 2025, a coalition of 50 CEOs focused on building Grand Rapid's capacity to meet the region's workforce needs by 2025, and to increase reverse transfer agreements between two-year and four-year colleges in West Michigan. Talent 2025 is also the coordinator of the Grand Rapids-Wyoming area's efforts toward the Talent Dividend Prize. 
Along with GRCC, West Shore Community College, Montcalm Community College, and Muskegon Community College will have all signed reverse transfer agreements with the local four-year colleges in West Michigan by the end of the year, including Davenport University, Ferris State University, Grand Valley State University, and Western Michigan University.
Reverse transfers mean that students can combine credits earned at a community college with credits earned at their transfer university to earn a associate's degree. If someone had completed two or three years of coursework and experiences an interruption in their education, they will still earn a degree with their coursework instead of not having an credential to show for their work. 
"This is aimed at nontraditional students or those who are otherwise not enrolled full time," says Kevin Stotts of Talent 2025. "When life happens to them while they're pursuing a two or four year degree, these students can fall back on their associates degree."
Without the reverse transfer option, students would not be able to experience the greater boost to their employability and promotion prospects they earn when they receive a degree. According to one study, earning an associates degree can create up to a 39 percent wage premium over only a high school diploma. And since the Talent Dividend Prize requires an increase in degrees granted, it also helps Talent 2025 move toward that goal of increasing degree attainment by 1 percentage point by 2014.

Writer: Amy Kuras
Source: Kevin Stotts, Talent 2025
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