Promoting lifelong learning: an analysis of community college delivery of employer-focused education and training
The role and mission of two-year colleges in U.S. higher education has expanded throughout their 100-year history. Community colleges began as junior colleges focusing on the first two years of post-secondary education. Over time, community (and technical) colleges have evolved to take on the additional mandates of professional-technical education, adult basic education, continuing education, worker retraining/job training, community service, and more recently, employer-focused education and training for newly-hired and incumbent (currently employed) workers.This study investigates this latest addition to the role that community colleges are expected to fill, looking at the structural changes in the economy and labor markets that have placed greater emphasis on the periodic (and sometimes continuous) upgrading of worker skills. How have community colleges responded to this economic demand? What has been the response of community and technical colleges in Washington State to the employer demand for skill upgrade education and training? What federal and state policies can better enable community colleges to meet the demand for skill upgrade training and education?This study of employer-focused contract supported education at Washington State community colleges found it to be a growing enterprise, in both relative and absolute terms, with regard to enrollments and expenditures. There was evidence indicating that employer-focused education and training is a dynamic enterprise responding to changes in the economy and employer demand. Finally, a high level of contract activity is currently focused on the academic subject areas, and the recent growth of employer-focused education was in this area and in vocational preparatory (entry level) training.The study concludes with policy and program recommendations, based on the study results, for colleges, Washington State, and the federal government to follow which promote the development of employer-focused contract supported education. These include the expansion of state resources targeting employer-focused education for small and medium sized firms, and certain non-credit course offerings, as well as a new formula-funded federal program that would support sector or cluster-based workforce development planning activities in labor market areas nationwide.
- Education - Seattle