Powerhouse Partnerships: Community Colleges and Workforce Boards Working Together
Author(s): Individual author not identified
Organizational Author(s): Jobs for the Future
U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration
Resource Availability: Publicly available
Showcases eight examples of statewide and regional partnerships between community colleges and public workforce agencies with key takeaways that can promote inter-agency collaboration and prepare students and employers for the future of work; the report includes many examples of partnerships that emerged from the Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training initiative.
“This report describes the activities and strategies of a wide variety of partnerships between community colleges and workforce boards, with key takeaways…that can assist other community colleges and workforce organizations to solidify their collaborations and further their mutual goals….
Many community colleges and public workforce organizations—state workforce agencies, state and local workforce development boards (WDBs) and American Job Centers (AJCs)—have [created partnerships] to have a larger impact together than they could have alone in helping people prepare for jobs and employers find a skilled labor force.
Building such partnerships is an essential element of the U.S. Department of Labor grant program called Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT). This program provided nearly $2 billion over a seven-year period to help the nation’s community colleges deliver industry-aligned credentials for unemployed and underemployed adults.
Many of the examples in this report illustrate partnerships that emerged out of TAACCCT, while others are longstanding relationships that pre-dated the program.
The first set of stories focuses on statewide and regional efforts to identify needs in the local labor market and to develop programs to meet them. The second set delves into the activities and lessons learned from serving ‘common customers’—individual students, employers, and jobseekers. In most cases, these two purposes are not mutually exclusive, and colleges and public workforce agencies come together to do both. But looking at them separately is helpful for homing in on the particular activities needed in each instance.
The common thread in these stories, whether the focus is service delivery or labor market planning, is that, like all relationships, successful partnerships don’t happen overnight. They require deliberate planning, focus, time, and resources” (p.1-2).
Major Findings & Recommendations
The authors group their key findings into five categories:
“Strategy and Planning
• Align the work of the partnership with the goals and priorities of other large-scale statewide or regional initiatives” (p.9).
• “Jointly and strategically engage employer partners” (p.10).
• “Develop a common understanding of the local labor market data and build a strategy from that” (p.10).
• “Establish common metrics, outcome goals, and data collection methods.
• Build leader-to-leader and staff-to-staff relationships” (p.10).
• “Have a written agreement” (p.10).
• “Develop strategies together for recruitment of target populations to broaden the reach of marketing efforts and to maximize resources” (p.10).
• Learn about each other’s funding streams” (p.10).
• “Look for opportunities to share the costs of personnel, resources, office space, etc.
• Develop grant proposals together” (p.10).
• “Some grants require that educational institutions take the lead. Others require a workforce system leader” (p.10).
“Systems and Processes
• Develop staff knowledge of each other’s systems” (p.10).
• “Co-enroll students when possible” (p.11).
• “Integrate systems when possible” (p.11).
• Recognize that as staff leave and positions change, the staff will need regular training about the roles of partnering organizations.
• Taking advantage of times of transition in an organization’s leadership or staff can offer opportunities to change the working relationship between partners, and further revise efforts.
• Continue to build and maintain systems of communication and be sure that communication is occurring at all levels—from executive leaders to direct service staff—through regular meetings and other channels.
• Recognize that a strong level of trust between the organizations is essential to long-term accomplishments and act in ways that foster that trust.
• Always keep in touch” (p.11).
• “Establish specific methods of communication (newsletters, project updates, federal guidance, and potential meetings) across both organizations.
• Be sure that communication is occurring at all levels” (p.11).
(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)