The importance of community college to the education and vocational training of our nation’s low-income youth and working adults cannot be overstated. These institutions have a range of educational offerings, from two-year degrees to nondegree and vocational programs focused on a wide range of subjects, to match the increasing diversity of their students. Many of these programs can provide the post-secondary credentials needed by low-income youth and working adults to increase their labor market earnings, and the overall skills needed to keep the American workforce productive and competitive.This paper reviews "both the promise of community colleges as a source of skill development for low-income students, as well as the problems that currently limit their success with this population. We then review a wide range of efforts by community colleges and states, with funding from private foundations as well as the federal government, to improve enrollments and completion rates among disadvantaged youth and adults. These efforts include:
• Systemic reforms at the state level, including regulatory changes, legislative initiatives, and administrative modifications to better link community colleges and labor markets.
• Instructional, curricular, and program reforms at community colleges to provide skills remediation, labor market preparation and support services to low-income students.
• Efforts aimed at disadvantaged youth, including those still in high school as well as dropouts, to better connect them to community college and labor market opportunities" (p.2). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)
Full Publication Title: Strong Students, Strong Workers: Models for Student Success through Workforce Development and Community College Partnerships
Major Findings & Recommendations
• State legislation can directly increase the attention and priority placed on integrated education and workforce development programs and policies. Legislative action in states such as Ohio and Arkansas called for new directions in programming statewide that requires integrating workforce development, college, and adult education programming. • Administrative actions at the state level can also serve as major policy catalysts to require or encourage integrated programming. The well-known I-BEST model in Washington State that integrates adult education and occupational training began in a few community colleges as a state initiative and is now in all community colleges and the model is being continuously enhanced. (p.2) • State administrative structures can also link community colleges and workforce development more closely. In Oregon, they are organizationally integrated into the Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development. • The availability of federal grant funding to develop training programs that consciously involve collaborations among workforce development agencies, community colleges and, in some places, economic development can prove to be essential additional resources to encourage communities to adopt innovative approaches" (p.2-3). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)