JANUARY 16, 2014

CSW is offering a new set of sector academies to prepare community colleges to work effectively with local employers so that their students get the right skills for good jobs in their communities.

Many community colleges struggle to engage employers effectively. Colleges often convene employer advisory committees or conduct one-on-one outreach to businesses. Some community colleges have not yet conceived of any structure in which employers play a role. In these cases, employers end up offering tangential input or only providing insight and approval after decisions have been made about course offerings. Students then pay for an education that they’ll never actually use at work.

We’d like to see more community colleges engage employers through industry sector strategies.

Industry sector strategies are regional, employer-driven partnerships of industry, education and training, and other stakeholders that focus on the workforce education and training needs of a single key industry in a regional labor market. The partnerships rely on a convener to engage employers and to coordinate information and resources across partners to develop and implement effective, coordinated responses to shared workforce challenges. This approach has demonstrated increased productivity for employers, as well as higher wages, better placement and advancement rates for workers.

Through participation in sector strategies, colleges can achieve deepened, ongoing relationships with employers in key local industries. This approach increases the ability of colleges to develop and offer real, market-relevant career pathways that prepare workers for good jobs in their community.

To build this capacity, we offer sector academies to community colleges. Workforce deans and directors, college staff currently interacting with employers, instructors, and advisors will learn to work with employers from key industry sectors, the public workforce system, economic development leaders, and other key partners crucial to the local labor market context.

Together, they engage employers more strategically in decision-making about programs, courses, curriculum, and credentials and develop education and training opportunities that result in good, local jobs for workers.

To learn more about how community colleges in your state can build a sector approach, contact Larry Good at

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