BCC to shift workforce development arm under its academic umbrella

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PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College is breaking a long-standing tradition of keeping workforce development programs separate from for-credit ones.

Christina Wynn, the college's dean of enrollment management, said the college will soon shift its workforce development program under the supervision of the for-credit business program. She said the goal is to reimagine workforce training and better align it with the needs of the business community — a move that also entails a personnel shake-up.

The shift will take place as of July 1.

The program offers courses that target workforce skills, like welding and manufacturing. Wynn said the noncredited workforce development program will still exist in a similar form, but will be designed to better complement the classic for-credit one.

"We're going to find ways to marry the two," she said.

Wynn said Charles Kaminsky, currently the college's dean of business, science, mathematics and technology, will oversee workforce development and hand over the STEM portion of his title to a new dean — yet to be hired — who will supervise STEM exclusively. For Kaminsky to oversee workforce development, she said, "seemed like a really good fit."

Jill Sasso Curtis supervises the existing workforce development program, but Wynn said her position won't exist under the shift.

Curtis could not be reached for comment by The Eagle when contacted Wednesday.

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As it stands, the workforce development program has four employees, including the leadership position that Curtis will vacate. She said the three nonleadership positions will be reposted in March and people currently filling them are invited to reapply.

In the interview with The Eagle, Wynn underscored the college's desire to focus on direct outcomes that students can learn to make themselves more employable in the eyes of Berkshire County employers.

"In order for us to continue to meet the needs of our students, we have to evolve," Wynn said.

Jonathan Butler, president of 1Bekshire, said he'd wait to weigh in on the change until the details were made public.

As far as enrollment goes, Wynn said students shouldn't feel a change.

"If we are doing our jobs, consumers won't feel a difference in the process they use to enroll," she said.

Heather Boulger, director of the Berkshire Regional Employment Board, said the programmatic merger will help attract a more diverse student base and "will update programs to more closely match local market needs." 

"With thousands of jobs going unfilled in the region, it's critical to explore innovative credentials to connect people to jobs, advanced educational programs and career paths," she said.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296. 


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