Community Colleges Vital for Educating Future Workforce

Higher Education community college technology

By partnering with business and industry, community colleges are closing workforce alignment gaps and ensuring career pathways for in-demand jobs

Public community colleges are a uniquely American educational model that was designed to guarantee access to affordable, high-quality higher education for all people. In fact, nearly one-third of all undergraduate students attend a public two-year college. They are the primary educators of nursing and other healthcare professionals – among many other professions – and are vital engines in a community for highly-skilled and trained employees for in-demand careers. Public community colleges provide advanced learning to students with the fewest resources and the greatest obstacles, and often serve the most demographically and socioeconomically diverse students.

Community colleges make higher education, career training, and advanced learning accessible to all students, and provide opportunities for area residents to expand their horizons, learn new skills, and acquire valuable jobs to make a better life for themselves and their families. Evidence suggests that the presence of a college in a local community increases the likelihood of enrollment in that institution by local students. About 1 in 6 high school seniors lack a nearby college, making geographic location an important factor in determining not just where, but whether, a high school senior goes on to college.

But rather than serving as merely a springboard to a four-year institution, many community colleges have identified opportunities to serve as a conduit for filling in-demand jobs in their regions while improving the lives of community members with highly skilled educational programs. By partnering with regional business and industry groups, many campuses are creating custom or industry specific certifications and learning programs to fill workforce alignment gaps and supply a steady pipeline of skilled and trained employees.

"Community colleges are engines of diversity, equity and inclusion.” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “They give opportunities to all students, and they support all students throughout their education, whether they intend to attain an associate degree or certificate, intend to transfer on for a bachelor’s or higher degree, or they take one or a few courses to learn a new skill or expand their horizons.”