A new report argues that community colleges are in the best position to upskill and train the millions of Americans who became unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
A working group on community college workforce education created by Opportunity America, a nonprofit focused on economic mobility, released 11 recommendations for how two-year institutions can take this role. They argue that the pandemic will hasten the future of work and likely change the economy. Because community colleges come in many forms and already serve a diverse student population, the group says they are in one of the best positions to help workers pivot their skills and reboot the economy.
The recommendations from the report include:
- Focusing on trends in the college's local economy
- Offering more courses at times convenient for adult learners, as well as more online instruction
- Creating policies that align community college funding with job placement rates and wages
- Creating and maintaining partnerships with local employers who will hire students
- Ensuring students learn both foundational skills like problem solving and job-focused skills like teamwork
- Funding efforts to increase work-based learning opportunities
- Building bridges between credit and noncredit programs
- Improving stackability of certificates into traditional programs
- Providing supports for students seeking jobs, like career maps and labor market information
- Cooperating with local workforce boards to create a single system for the public workforce
- Rethinking funding methods.