Delaware County Community College (DCCC) is an Associate’s degree-granting institution serving over 27,000 students, including over 9,000 non-credit students. 6,500 of those students currently take classes in six Chester County locations. It has six academic divisions focusing on Health, Business/Information Systems, Communications, STEM occupations, Public/Social Services, and Technical Education. Of their 1,165 employees, 469 are full-time and 696 are part-time. DCCC has campuses in both Chester and Delaware Counties, including a $60M STEM complex at their main campus, and six Chester County locations that feature three Technical College/High School facilities in partnership with the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU). Of the student population, 44% are full-time and 56% are part-time students with a geographic distribution of 66% Delaware County, 26% Chester County, 6% international and 2% out-of-state. The college is the 11th largest employer in Delaware County and its community outreach has included but is not limited to: a Workforce Entry Center which served over 37,000 people in the past 5 years; a Business Development Office providing services to over 170 employers; a “College Over Sixty” initiative providing free courses to over 1,700 seniors; and an Educational Foundation providing scholarships for over 1,300 students.
In the early 1990’s Chester County had a shortage of skilled labor in IT and manufacturing but had neither a County Community College nor a Technical College. At that time, a decision was made to focus on the CCIU and the Centers for Arts & Technology for their technical training while relying on existing 4-year institutions to provide higher education experience. As a result, many Chester County students began attending Delaware County Community College at their main campus in Delaware County. In the mid 1990’s, corporate development and the IT boom occurred along the route 30, 100 and 202 corridors. This combined with a shortage of skilled technical workers, drove companies to both CCEDC and DCCC for additional workforce development support.
Using CCEDC Services
DCCC and CCEDC joined forces identifying a location to establish a DCCC campus in Chester County and developed a formal approach to addressing the shortage of qualified workers.
Several options were pursued. Initially, DCCC leased facilities in Coatesville as a way of bringing academic programs to Chester County. In addition, the college used the Technical School locations to conduct vocational and technical training programs. A growing student population provided a need for larger facilities. A new site in the Whiteland Business Park was opened in order to accommodate increasing demand and expand services. The Whiteland Business Park location was quickly outgrown and a need for a major expansion was identified. With the help of CCEDC and Jack Loew, a local real estate developer, DCCC identified a Downingtown site for a more permanent location of this new campus. At the same time, Gary Smith, CCEDC President and CEO and Richard DeCosmo, DCCC President, were planning ways to address a greater need to provide education and training services to the business community in Chester County. A Task Force was formed to begin plans for a more formal focus on incumbent worker training.
In 1998 DCCC and CCEDC held a workforce summit bringing professionals from every major industry together with, education and economic development thought leaders to begin to address the shortage of qualified workers. It was decided that no one agency could do this alone, so a Workforce Partners Groups was established that included CCEDC, DCCC, CCIU, West Chester University (WCU), Penn State Great Valley Campus (PSU-GV) and a host of private sector representatives. In addition, three industry partnerships were formed to address industry specific worker needs – Manufacturing, IT, and Healthcare programs were developed. While all partners participated in the partnerships, DCCC took the lead on manufacturing, CCEDC focused on IT and CCIU spearheaded the Healthcare group. These early partnerships became models for the state-wide industry partnership program that established in 2006 and continues to this day. In the late 2000s, with the establishment of the DCCC campus in Downingtown, DCCC and CCIU formed an Adult Training and Education Alliance to leverage the resources of both organizations to provide a broad spectrum of training and education services to the business community.
6,500 students are being served in six Chester County campuses of DCCC, enabling Chester County students to have local access to community college education.
The manufacturing partnership spurred the establishment of the college’s Advanced Technology Center, the Applied Engineering Curriculum and several company specific training programs have supported the manufacturers in both Chester and Delaware Counties, such as Johnson Mathey, Synthes, Lukens Steel and others.
The collaboration between DCCC and CCIU helped to establish the three current Technical College/High Schools enabling students pursuing technical education (through articulation agreements) to have a seamless career path from high school to college in one location.
The development and expansion of the -Innovative Technology Action Group (ITAG) created career exploration opportunities in the IT/Communication fields that began to better prepare students for careers in technology-related jobs. Initiatives were established for middle school, high school and college students, to emphasize job opportunities in technology and the training and education required to fill those jobs (a benefit seen by companies like Unisys, Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI), QVC, Siemens and others).
The growing support for our Healthcare Partnership led to the recent establishment of an annual “Best Practices” conference.
Since, 2004, as a bi-product of this successful partnership, federal and state grant sources have awarded more than $26M for workforce development activities in Chester and Delaware Counties through DCCC and CCEDC. This has resulted in more than 3,000 students served each year, more than 600 companies actively engaging in industry partnerships, over 100 educational institutions participating each year, and more than 12,000 workers trained. Collaborative grant programs were established: Incumbent Workforce Challenge Grant, DCED Workforce Leadership Grants and the H-1B Skills Training Grant.
The Chester County Economic Development Council is proud to have Delaware County Community College support its efforts as a Legacy Investor for over ten years. Jerry Parker, DCCC’s President, is an active member of the CCEDC Board of Directors. CCEDC partners with DCCC supporting the Steve P. Pahides Endowed Business Scholarship, facilitating Techies Day at the Downingtown Campus and supporting the Applied Engineering Technology program.
The most recent collaboration has resulted in the two organizations spearheading the Manufacturing Alliance of Chester and Delaware Counties (MACC/DC), which brings together manufacturers from the two counties to provide support for incumbent worker training, career exploration opportunities for students and enables the sharing of business best practices to advance the business resource needs of participating companies.