By: Doug Barry, International Trade Administration
Community college business instructors from 21 states received copies of the Basic Guide to Exporting, published by the International Trade Administration. The instructors attended a faculty development institute at the International Business Center, Michigan State University, Lansing, June 6-9.
The Trade Information Center (TIC), based in Washington, DC, presented one of the keynote sessions on business ideas, product innovation, and selling globally. The faculty members received instruction on how to use the book and related online teaching tools in existing and in new business courses. The TIC’s participation is part of National Export Initiative (NEI) outreach, an effort to double U.S. exports and support millions of jobs.
Forty-five percent of all U.S. college students are enrolled in community colleges, and the Obama Administration recently announced a program to prepare more students for jobs in the manufacturing sector. Filling vacancies in manufacturing and doubling exports have not been directly linked in official comments, but the relationship seems clear. The more things the U.S. makes and sells to buyers in other countries, the more good-paying jobs will be generated. Perhaps what’s new is the central role to be played by community colleges.
Participants in the Michigan State University Institute program, which is funded by a Department of Education grant, admit they know little about international trade or exporting. But at the end of the week, they were buzzing with new teaching ideas. This enthusiasm could be transferred to as many as 8000 students during the next academic year. Several of the instructors said they would add immediately an export plan writing module to their existing business planning unit. Others said they would use the case studies in the book to demonstrate how a small company with a good business idea, product or service can make it big in the global market. Still others said they were dumbfounded by the range and value of assistance available from the federal government, and particularly liked what www.export.gov has to offer.
One dark cloud is created by tanking federal and state spending. There will be cuts in federal grants for providing international training and programs to higher education and states have historically chopped international programs when money gets tight because they are considered frills. Fewer people argue today that international programs, including those focused on business, are frills but that doesn’t mean they’ll escape the budget ax.