Describes a newly developed framework for evaluating “hard-to-measure” design, development, and delivery of workforce education partnerships and programs, to allow community colleges and employers identify and address regional workforce needs.

“Spurred by a demand to prepare more American workers for middle-class jobs in high-technology industries, funders are investing…in large-scale partnerships between community college workforce educators and employers. Despite such investments, however, few broadly usable insights have been gleaned about effective partnership and workforce program implementation…To address this problem, from 2009 to 2015, researchers from SRI International’s Education Division studied community college workforce educational implementation in five industries and geographic regions.

That work has resulted in the Workforce Education Implementation Evaluation (WEIE), a framework for evaluating hard-to-measure aspects of the design, development, and delivery of workforce education partnerships and programs. Partnership strategies between employers and community colleges permit local regions to make adjustments in their workforce education system to ensure adequate supplies of skilled workers to meet employer demand.

...[T]he WEIE framework documents…aspects of workforce programming that make for partnership sustainability and appropriate instructional programs. To illustrate WEIE’s potential…SRI…applied the framework to two contrasting cases. Each case represents a predominant approach to workforce program development in the [U.S.]: the large-scale partnership, an approach that involves close collaborations that can lead to structural changes in the college’s instructional delivery system; and traditional employer outreach, an approach that involves the college in occasional consultations with employers to identify workforce skills gaps” (p.2).

“The WEIE framework relies on the following research approaches:

  • Detailed analyses of…industry employment databases, company data, an online job advertisement dataset, and a dataset consisting of resumes of program alumni
  • Partnership analysis drawing from interviews with more than 80 college leaders, industry partners, and regional economic development representatives in the U.S. Northeast, South, Midwest, and Southwest, and in…information technology (IT), advanced manufacturing, biotechnology, engineering technology, and wind energy technology
  • Instructional data collection focusing on two high technology workforce programs offered at about 10% of American community colleges: IT support and advanced manufacturing maintenance” (p.2).
  • (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)