Report Shows Gaps in Colleges’ Workforce Development Capacity

Even as community colleges are increasingly seen as critical resources for training workers in the post-recession economy, funding sources for training programs are drying up, challenging efforts to prepare students for high-skill, high-wage jobs, according to a new report.

“Workforce Training in a Recovering Economy,” released by the Education Policy Center at The University of Alabama, surveyed community college leaders from across the country on the status of workforce development programs. The full report is available athttp://uaedpolicy.weebly.com.

Respondents reported that expectations from business leaders, policymakers and the public for community colleges to train workers are on the rise while training funds from federal sources like the Workforce Investment Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act have been exhausted. High unemployment has also strained the capacity of the schools, as more people seek new training, the survey found.

“As the nation emerges from the recession, how can community colleges reach out, in both the short- and long-term, to develop the workforce when their own capacity is itself threatened?” ask the report’s authors, Stephen Katsinas, Mark M. D’Amico, and Janice N. Friedel. Katsinas is director of the University of Alabama’s Education Policy Center, D’Amico is a faculty member at the College of Education at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and Friedel is at on the faculty at Iowa State University.

Community colleges emerged as a vital player in workforce training in the early 1980s, and attention to this role has increased in recent years as the economy has slowed. Forty-five of 49 responding state community college directors said business leaders see the schools as primary workforce training providers, up from 34 respondents in a survey conducted last year. “The data are abundantly clear: high-wage jobs require education beyond high school,” the report says. (Read more.)

Via Paul Bradley, Editor, Community College Week.

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