The Coast Guard is partnering with the Navy and Marine Corps to establish the U.S. Naval Community College (NCC) with a pilot program that is scheduled to officially kick off in January 2021.
"A key to building a mission-ready total workforce is investing in our people and their education," said Dr. Gladys Brignoni, Director of the Coast Guard's Force Readiness Command. "The Naval Community College effort will help develop the skills of our workforce through formal education opportunities. This is an exciting opportunity for the Coast Guard and we look forward to all of the future possibilities this holds for our service and our workforce."
Master Chief Petty Officer Anthony J. Matulonis is the U.S. Coast Guard liaison working alongside Stephen R. Keck, chief of the Coast Guard’s Career Investment Division.
“Over 500 of the Coast Guard’s enlisted workforce applied to the pilot program, out of which 135 Coast Guardsmen and 370 Navy and Marine Corps members were selected. There was greater interest and excitement than originally anticipated without any formal communications or outreach.” Matulonis said. “While developing the student criteria for the pilot, the panel wanted to prioritize E-4s without degrees for authenticity.”
Acceptance into the pilot program was competitive. Students were vetted for grit, professional competencies, and a record of continuous self-improvement.
Pilot courses will be at the introductory level. The course load is not full-time and will be conducted virtually, allowing students to take up to two courses between January and June of 2021. Courses will be compressed and run six to ten weeks and completed on their own time or at the discretion of their supervisors.
“Filling in the gaps in knowledge and providing educational resources and tools to the enlisted members will help them advance in their careers,” Matulonis said. “We believe that obtaining a degree related to a rate or field will help both the member and the service.”
Matulonis is hopeful this program will benefit the active enlisted members in the long-term as they embark on their career journeys.
“It’s was remarkable to see the level of buy-in we received from the enlisted workforce and the high number of members willing to obligate up to 130 hours per class for the pilot with very limited details about the course or school they will be attending. They clearly think this is important and something we should continue to pursue,”Matulonis said.
As a pilot program, data will be collected to evaluate the academic performance and experience of all participants. This evaluation will be used to inform future phases of the program.
Overall, the NCC is mission-driven, provides readily transferable knowledge by bridging formal and informal learning, all while continuing to work. A second phase for admissions is slated for the spring of 2022.
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