Democracy’s Colleges, Skills and the Manufacturing Sector

George R. Boggs, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), prepared a briefing paper for the White House Summit on Community Colleges, “Democracy’s Colleges: The Evolution of the Community College in America.”

Page 10 is headed, “A Skilled Workforce Is Key to Economic Recovery and Future Competitiveness.” Excerpt:

The current economic recession has underscored the essential role that community colleges play in preparing the nation’s workforce. As the economy faltered, community college enrollment surged by close to 17% nationwide between fall 2007 and fall 2009, comprising both new high school graduates seeking affordable entry into college and adult learners looking for training to allow them to keep their jobs or move into new careers. In communities where whole industries have been lose through plant closures, community colleges have focused on intensive customized services and classes for displaced workers. Colleges have developed partnerships and training alternative to help resuscitate their communities. The rise in student numbers, while shrinking revenues force state and local policymakers to reduce support colleges, presents a need for large and small colleges to do more with less.

A pernicious and growing skills gap threatens the viability of the nation’s existing and future workforce, according to workforce exports. At the same time that persistent double-digit unemployment plagues the nation’s economic stability, business leaders decry their inability to find workers with the right skills to meet their needs. The Ill-Prepared Workforce, issued by Corporate Voices for Working Families and partners, underscores this mismatch. Of employers surveyed, 46% provide workforce readiness training, but they also believe that colleges are better positioned to alleviate the skills gap. Colleges and employers are building models that integrate remediation and workforce preparation and combine learning and earning.

The report the above comments refer to is available via, “Corporate Voices Report Highlights Innovative Employer and Community College Partnerships”

The AACC also prepared a separate “Community Colleges Issue Brief” with more a legislative focus.

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