A new investigation found that community colleges, and particularly their non-credit programs, play an inordinate role in providing employment-oriented education.
Opportunity America, a Washington, DC think tank focused on economic mobility, explained the survey’s findings in an accompanying policy report released Tuesday.
The report states that community colleges are “on the cusp of becoming the leading national provider of employment-oriented education and training.”
Community and technical colleges educate more people per year than apprenticeship programs, coding boot camps, and federal job training programs combined, noted Tamar Jacoby, president of Opportunity America and author of the report. However, many people underestimate the value of these institutions.
“They are an important stepping stone to four-year colleges and universities, but that’s only part of what they do,” she said in a press release, referring to the ability of community and technical colleges to prepare students for working life directly through employment. oriented programs.
Over 600 colleges responded to at least one of the survey questions and 477 institutions provided more comprehensive responses, for a response rate of 38%.
Survey results show that more than half of community college students who responded are enrolled in employment-oriented programs.
The report also argues that uncredited community college education programs in particular demonstrate ‘signature strength’ in delivering education to the workforce, but policymakers know little about who is. these students. The report notes that about 3.7 million students nationwide are enrolled in non-credit programs. More than half of uncredited students, 57 percent, were enrolled in employment-oriented programs.
About three-quarters of students enrolled in uncredited workforce programs were aged 25 and over, compared to 44 percent of community college students in degree programs. Students in uncredited Workforce programs were also more likely to be white than those in degree-seeking programs, based on available data. However, less than half of the responding colleges had information on the race or ethnicity of students in uncredited workforce training.
The report makes a number of policy recommendations to improve workforce training in community colleges. It recommends that policymakers collect more robust data, disaggregated by race and ethnicity, on enrollment and student achievement for uncredited community college workforce programs, among other suggestions.