Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Supporting Community Colleges: Developing a Skilled Workforce for the Future

Community colleges are increasingly being called upon as a partner in connecting skilled workers to employment. Data shows that during the economic recession, post secondary education and training kept more people competitive in the labor market. As the economy recovers, predictions indicate that many newly created jobs will be “middle skill” jobs that require education and training beyond high school level but not a four year degree. Analysis of job growth from 2008-2018 predicts that during the economic recovery 46.8 million job openings will be created, 2/3rds of which will require post-secondary education.

Community colleges are particularly important for low-income adults whose post secondary education needs include more flexibility in their schedule to deal with competing work and family priorities, further academic preparation to succeed in an advanced program, and greater affordability. However, community colleges have been traditionally underfunded.  In recognition of the important role of community colleges, the White House held its first Summit on Community Colleges. There the President announced the launch of Skills for America’s Future, a new initiative that will build “high-impact partnerships with industry, labor unions, community colleges and other training providers in all 50 states, all in support of the President’s goal of 5 million more community college graduates and certificates by 2020.”

The formation of Skills for America’s Future is in response to a recommendation by the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which spent the last year surveying employers about their workforce needs and development strategies. Skills for America’s Future will be spearheaded by Penny Pritzker, Chairman and Founder, Pritzker Realty Group, and Walter Isaacson, CEO, Aspen Institute. Skills for America’s Future will recruit additional private sector leaders; provide a national voice for effective public/private partnerships in workforce development; develop a “certification” for best-in-class partnerships; and leverage new opportunities for online learning, measuring program impact and sharing lessons learned. In addition, President Obama announced the establishment of a Skills for America’s Future Task Force, co-chaired by top-level administration policymakers and including the Secretaries of Education, Labor and Commerce, to ensure federal efforts are coordinated and to facilitate private sector access to federal training and education programs.

The Summit also highlighted a new public private partnership supported by the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation, Completion by Design, which is a $35 million investment over five years to 3-5 multi-campus groups of community colleges in nine states serving the largest population of low-income students (Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Washington). Click here for more information about Completion by Design.

The Lumina Foundation for Education also recently announced support for 19 large-scale projects that will provide leverage to efforts to educate and retrain workers who need up-skilling in order to compete for the jobs that will be created in the next decade. Click here for more information on these awards.

For CSSP’s policy recommendations to support building a skilled workforce, please click here.

For more information on the importance of strengthening access to postsecondary education, please see the following:

The Bridge to a New Economy: Worker Training Fills the Gap, National Skills Coalition

Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Postsecondary Education and Training as We Know it Is Not Enough, Urban Institute

Strong Students, Strong Workers: Models for Student Success through Workforce Development and Community College Partnerships, Center for American Progress

No comments:

Post a Comment