Diablo Valley College Paves the Way for BIW

Diablo Valley College will launch its Business Information Worker certificate program this fall after about a year of planning. Yes, that’s right. The college gained buy-in and put together details of the program in just a year.

How did they do it? Claudia Eckelmann, a business faculty member at DVC, recently shared some of the college’s keys to success.

The first step, Eckelmann said, was to meet with local businesses to determine what types of skills they were looking for in administrative employees. They received feedback that English proficiency, typing skills, and knowledge of programs like Microsoft Office were often lacking in administrative candidates.

From there, they compared how those requests matched courses that already existed in the DVC catalogue and created new classes in applied business math, keyboarding, and other areas.

The BIW certificate will be offered in a two-tiered approach. Students begin by earning a 14-unit certificate of accomplishment and then continue on to complete the full 29-credit program.

“Employers said they want to have people get a foot in the door so that’s why we developed a certificate of accomplishment,” Eckelmann said. “We were hoping that our students could complete that first level then start working part time while continuing for the second part of the certificate.”

Eckelmann and other staff are holding monthly meetings with the area’s three Adult Schools to recruit potential students and receive continuing feedback on what they are looking for in a program. They are also doing outreach to high school counselors and the CalWORKS program.

DVC plans to offer the certificate in a cohort program to allow for students to network with each other and with faculty and staff. Funding from the Strong Workforce program will allow cohort courses to operate with about 20 students rather than the college’s normal 45.

Eckelmann said the program team is working with other units on campus and an external advisory board to secure internship placement opportunities for BIW students.

Entrance into the program requires eligibility for ESL 98A (Advanced ESL Writing) proficiency. Students who need additional ESL instruction will have the opportunity to take lower level ESL courses then join the BIW program when they reach ESL 98A level.

If students come into the program with skills in things like Microsoft Office, they will be able to take proficiency exams and receive credit for those courses.

The first BIW cohort is expected to start in the fall 2017 semester, though several students have already started taking courses toward the certificate of accomplishment. After such a whirlwind planning process, Eckelmann is excited to see it all come to fruition.

“We needed to have the catalog draft ready a year in advance so we jumped right into it,” Eckelmann said. “It was amazing how the team all worked together.”

For more information on DVC’s implementation of the BIW certificate, contact Eckelmann at [email protected].

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