How education partnerships help build a stronger workforce
By Ann Swardlick
What role does Saint Joseph’s play to facilitate workforce development in Maine and beyond? It starts with our Education Partners program. Chief Enrollment Officer Lynne Robinson and Associate Director of Partnerships and Special Programming Stephanie Briggs ’98, ’14 explain.
How does the Education Partners program benefit employers?
Lynne R: We’re helping employers develop the next level of leadership within their organizations. We know that employer-sponsored education enhances employee loyalty and retention. Our programs offer a path to advancement, helping workers stay current in their fields, improving both morale and productivity—all good for our partners and their employees.
Stephanie B: Saint Joseph’s Education Partners program includes tuition discounts in the range of 10-15%, as well as application fee waivers, so that employers are able to stretch their workforce development dollars and provide more affordable employee training and education options.
What programs do we offer?
Lynne R: We have more than 40 existing online programs, including undergraduate and graduate degrees as well as certificate and continuing education programs. We work directly with our partners, whether it’s a larger employer like Unum or a small Maine school district, to achieve their education goals and deliver courses in ways that are convenient and flexible for working people.
Stephanie B: In the health care sector, for example, our online MS in nursing, RN to BSN, and Master in health administration are our most popular programs. And at Unum, employees tend to pursue programs like the MBA, Master of Accountancy, or MEd in adult education and training.
Can we provide customized programming?
Stephanie B: Yes, we customize existing programs and even create new ones to meet specific needs. For example, at the request of the Gray-New Gloucester school system, we developed a program for gifted and talented teachers–something they couldn’t find elsewhere in a format that worked for them. Our faculty collaborated with the district to create a new program and get state approval. It included an e-portfolio platform, which our CIDET (Course Instructional Design and Educational Technology) team developed for them.
Lynne R: Another example of customization is our ongoing CPA Series. We recognized a need for continuing education programs tailored to accounting professionals in Maine. We offer full-day workshops in locations throughout the state, enabling participants to earn continuing professional education (CPE) hours to meet licensing requirements.
What impact are we having in Maine and beyond?
Stephanie B: We partner with state and national membership organizations like the American College of Health Care Administrators, Massachusetts Nurses Association, and Maine Development Foundation, as well as individual employers like the Portland Police Department, Mid Coast Hospital, and Biddeford School Department. At any one time, 400 to 500 students are benefiting from Education Partner discounts.
Lynne R: Here in Maine, we’re helping to promote educational advancement in the workplace through our participation in Maine Development Foundation’s Next Step Maine Employers’ Initiative. In collaboration with MDF, we make courses available to more than 70,000 employees in more than 285 Maine companies.
Stephanie B: We’ve also been working with the Manufacturers Association of Maine (MAMe), a group that’s concerned about retaining the state’s young labor force. On September 20, MAMe is co-sponsoring a networking event at the College’s Stone Barn. The goal is twofold: to introduce employers to future employees and to impress upon students that their futures may begin here in Maine.
Meloney (Simpson) Santeusanio ’09, ’15, senior disability specialist at Unum, took advantage of Unum’s tuition reimbursement program to earn her MBA from Saint Joseph’s.
“I knew I wanted to start my MBA as soon as possible, and Unum made it virtually free to get my degree from SJC online. It took me five years, but it was time well spent. I’m always encouraging other employees to take advantage of the tuition reimbursement program–there’s no reason not to!”
Photo caption: Class of 2016 graduates Mario Lemieux, Samantha Sim, and Nate Fox interned as Unum Scholars, leading to full-time jobs with the company.
Unum: The Partnership Circle
At Unum, the Fortune 500 insurance company headquartered in Portland, partnership goes both ways. Below, current Unum employees offer their perspectives on internships, tuition reimbursement benefits, and the value of corporate education partnerships:
Mario Lemieux ’16 was a Unum Scholar before assuming his new, full-time role as a market specialist associate at Unum.
“As a Unum Scholar, I got great exposure to the corporate environment. I did multiple jobs during my internship, so I could really narrow down what I was looking for in a job. That’s something you don’t get in the classroom.”
Samantha Sim ’16 interned as a Unum Scholar and was hired this spring as a new case billing specialist 1 at Unum.
“When I became a business major, I never pictured myself working in insurance. My internship got me interested in the industry, and I learned more about the corporate world...It was a very smooth transition to go from being an intern into a full-time employee.”
Nate Fox ’16, new case billing specialist 1 at Unum, interned as a Unum Scholar and was hired after graduation this spring.
“The fact that I was able to be here for two years, and get a base of knowledge about what Unum does, benefited me both in getting into the position I’m in now, and also going forward.”
Take the first step toward partnership by contacting Stephanie Briggs at the Office of Partnerships and Special Programs: 207-893-7769 or email@example.com.
Five Ways to Partner with SJC
1. Participate in our Connections career development program. Our Alumni Career Panels offer students insights about specific fields and career paths.
2. Create internship opportunities. Our students seek career-building experience in a wide range of fields. Let us help you create opportunities for SJC students.
3. Connect with students. Mentor someone in your field, serve as a guest lecturer in class, offer a workshop, or collaborate with faculty on a business challenge.
4. Become a Saint Joseph’s ambassador. Alumni admissions representatives attend college fairs, interview prospective students, and help meet enrollment goals.
5. Partner with us on workforce development. Take advantage of our tuition discounts and extensive programs to build your company’s knowledge base.