Higher Education Regional Alliance featured at WEDC board meeting

UW-Parkside Chancellor Deborah Ford is calling for greater collaboration among health care educators in southeastern Wisconsin.

“We know we cannot produce enough nurses fast enough, so we have to look at ways of doing things differently,” Ford said yesterday at a board meeting for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

She was joined by UW-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone in presenting on HERA, the Higher Education Regional Alliance.

According to Tricia Braun, chief operating officer for WEDC, the agency approved a grant in December for this initiative. It’s meant to bridge the gap between higher education and industry groups, aligning their efforts to increase rates of college graduation.

HERA’s specific goal is to get 60 percent of people in the seven-county Milwaukee region to complete some form of postsecondary education. Officials with the group say college graduation rates in the Milwaukee area are about 37 percent, compared to about 48 percent statewide.

“We’re in a talent shortage in a national sense because of the strength of the economy,” Mone said. “But even if the economy wasn’t as robust, there’s going to continue to be those fast-growing, high-demand job areas and the need for educated talent.”

Mone said HERA partners are pushing for more accelerated degree programs, dual enrollment and other programs to help shorten the time to graduate. Those partners include UWM, UW-Parkside, UW-Whitewater, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Marquette University and about a dozen more.

In her remarks yesterday, Ford highlighted the importance of getting more people into the nursing field. One way to do that, she said, is to create regional hubs for health care simulation labs.

“How might we create regional locations and work with our health care partners so that we can all use a particular simulation lab, to increase the number of clinical sites that would be available for prospective nursing students?” she said.

She says Mone has led an effort alongside Carroll University President Cindy Gnadinger to bring the schools’ deans of nursing together to discuss possible collaborations.

“We hear too often from our business and industry partners that they can’t find the talent, and what we have to do is really secure this bridge,” Ford said.

HERA’s efforts come amid demographic change in Wisconsin, as more students of color are going to college and older adults with some college experience are coming back to finish their degrees.

“One of the other areas of focus for us is on equity, and providing students of color and first-generation college students with the opportunity to enroll and complete higher education,” Ford said. “That is a key point of what we are doing.”

See more on the HERA partnership: http://uwm.edu/chancellor/higher-education-regional-alliance-closing-talent-and-skills-gaps/


–By Alex Moe