The Center for American Progress recently released two reports, “Strong Students, Strong Workers” and “Re-Imagining Community Colleges in the 21st Century,” which explore some of the problems facing community colleges—everything from funding issues to substandard graduation rates (especially among low-income people)—and lay out a series of recommended legislative and system-wide reforms.
CAP is closely tied to the Obama administration (John Podesta was the co-chair of President Obama’s transition team) and was influential in defining and developing green job policy. These reports signal an upcoming focus from President Obama and other political leaders toward community colleges—this fleshes out the $12 billion community college initiative that the president spoke about in July—so they deserve some attention.
While the “Re-Imagining Community Colleges” report largely deals with broad issues, “Strong Students, Strong Workers” focuses on vocational and technical education, and ways that community colleges can further improve their performance in those areas. A key theme is ensuring that community college students are linked to classes with strong labor market demand and high earnings potential. As the authors put it:
In particular, community colleges are frequently disconnected from state and local workforce development systems, whose One-Stop Career Centers and personnel provide the employment services and training intended to help workers find jobs or improve their skills and earnings. Without better linkages across these two sets of institutions, students at community colleges do not necessarily take the classes and earn the credentials that will best serve them in the job market.
The authors propose a new approach to training and credentialing. They argue that community colleges need to be responsive to industry and student needs through “innovative, credit-based training programs.”
At EMSI we are always looking for ways to help people identify in-demand jobs that are growing in their regions. With that in mind, we’ve put a simple program review report together that can be adopted to any program at any college. The report lets you see how programs are linked to regional occupations and gives the relevant trends and projections for those occupations and the industries that staff them. Further, the report shows the regional businesses inside those industries so researchers and administrators know whom to contact to gauge industry needs.
Download a sample report: Program LMI Analysis
We think this type of report is a quick, straightforward way for colleges to determine how successful their training programs are in connecting students to good jobs. Check it out and email Rob Sentz or call 208.883.3500 for more information.