​​​​​​​New Report Urges Community College and Businesses to Partner to Prepare Students for the Future of Work

October 25, 2018

Community colleges and businesses must work together to help students gain the knowledge and skills needed to keep pace with changing technology and be successful in the workforce

WASHINGTON, DC — October 25, 2018 — The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), supported by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, today issued Partnerships for a Future-Ready Workforce, a report that details community colleges’ and businesses’ shared interest in preparing a future-ready workforce. The report details how community colleges and businesses can form strong partnerships, national trends in employer needs and postsecondary attainment, and policies and practices that form a continuum of education and career training. The report also highlights five examples of innovative postsecondary education and workforce development initiatives from South Carolina; Washington; Miami-Dade County, Florida; Maricopa County, Arizona; and Maryland.

“Today perhaps more than ever, college educations are crucial to finding meaningful, sustainable work that pays a living wage,” said ACCT President and CEO J. Noah Brown. “This report will help guide community college leaders and business leaders in forging stronger partnerships with businesses to create programs that will connect college careers and job prospects, while also providing essential resources to sustain institutions.”

Major takeaways from the report include:

  • Developing partnerships with businesses is a cornerstone of the community college model. Community colleges and businesses must work together to assess the capabilities and skills of students and existing employees; identify career opportunities and the necessary skills; and implement strategies to align individuals’ skills with business needs.
  • In today’s labor market, employers increasingly seek trained individuals with a postsecondary degree or credential, and seek to meet new business needs resulting from the increased use of digital technologies and automation. Community colleges and businesses have an opportunity to provide a continuum of learning opportunities for students including academic programs, work-based learning, and employer-based training.
  • There is a strong imperative for community colleges and businesses to collaborate; however, in the current policy environment both sectors face limited resources for developing partnerships. Funding has been limited by state-level disinvestment in postsecondary education and large federal cuts to career training programs, including designated grant funds for developing partnerships between community colleges and businesses. Many community college students and existing employees also face financial barriers to cover the full cost of college attendance and have limited financial aid options for career training.

“At Guardian Life we have partnered extensively with community colleges across the country to provide our expertise, support and guidance to building strong new pathways to career success for students,” said Deanna Mulligan, President and CEO. “We recognize the tremendous importance of community colleges to the nation’s economy and workforce and we hope that this report will serve as a foundation upon which to improve connections between postsecondary education and business needs.”

“Ultimately,” Brown said, “stronger partnerships between community colleges and businesses can help students and existing workers be successful in their careers and achieve greater economic prosperity.”

Download the executive summary (PDF)

Download the full report (PDF)



About ACCT

The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. For more information, go to www.acct.org. Follow ACCT on Twitter @CCTrustees.


 About The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America

Every day, Guardian provides 26 million Americans the security they deserve through our insurance and wealth management products and services. Since our founding in 1860, our long-term view has helped our customers prepare for whatever life brings whether starting a family, planning for the future or taking care of employees. Today, we're a Fortune 250 mutual company and a leading provider of life, disability and other benefits for individuals, at the workplace and through government sponsored programs. The Guardian community of ~9000 employees and our network of over 2750 financial representatives is committed to serving with expertise when, where and how our clients need us. Our commitments rest on a strong financial foundation, which at year-end 2017 included $8.0 billion in capital and $1.6 billion in operating income. For more information, please visit guardianlife.com or follow us on Facebook, LinkedInTwitter and YouTube