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STLCC Presentation Features Workforce-Focused Study Abroad Program

June 04, 2013

Chris Stephens  
Chris Stephens partnered with Rod Nunn to make a presentation about STLCC's workforce-focused study abroad program in Italy at the recent NAFSA Conference.

Two representatives of St. Louis Community College made a presentation during the recently concluded 65th annual conference of NAFSA: The National Association of International Educators*.

Rod Nunn, vice chancellor for economic development and workforce solutions, and Chris Stephens, professor in communications at STLCC-Florissant Valley, discussed a unique study-abroad program to Italy whose goal is to develop globally-competent workers who will positively impact the St. Louis economy.

Rod Nunn  
Rod Nunn

Nunn described how faculty and staff first spent countless hours meeting with more than 1,200 companies to determine their employment needs and the markets in which they operated. What they found was that even in a recession economy, with a surplus of job-seeking degree holders, employers still had trouble finding talented workers who possessed even basic professional skills.

Nunn said that by polling employers and developing specific competencies that workers should possess, STLCC created an exchange program in Italy that provided students with experiential learning sought by businesses.

Stephens noted that experiential learning was the most effective way to impart the desired knowledge and skills, adding that language and cultural barriers made the students uncomfortable and forced them to learn faster than they would have in a familiar setting.

STLCC also assessed the students’ attainment of the global competencies, and used the data to validate the program’s benefits to the students as well as the local economy.

Dorsey and Bagherpour  
Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey, right, and Parvin
Behroozi Bagherpour, associate vice chancellor
in Houston Community College's Office of Inter-
national Students, attend the luncheon hosted
by both institutions.

STLCC, along with Houston Community College, co-hosted the Community College Luncheon at the conference. More than 350 participants attended the event.

STLCC also staffed an information booth at the conference.

Community colleges often face more challenges than four-year colleges and universities when trying to expand international offerings. Funding may be difficult to obtain, and business leaders and trustees are likely to make the institutions focus on meeting the immediate community needs, namely developing a professional workforce.

*NAFSA's original name was National Association of Foreign Student Advisers. In May 1990, the membership formally renamed the organization NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The acronym was retained to reflect NAFSA's proud past and broad name recognition.