36 | COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL AACC.NCHE.EDU
Registered and recognized apprenticeships, certifica-
tions, workforce education, tech ed—whatever you
call it, community colleges are at the heart of the
growing focus on workforce programs and services.
As community college leaders, we know that our
sector has been key to providing students with opportunities to obtain skills that are needed for jobs that
pay family-sustaining wages. We have done so for
decades. But, increasingly, higher education is being
looked at through the lens of employability.
In particular, many of the legislators here in
Washington, D.C., are focused on increasing the
number of trained workers in the United States
in order to address a gap that exists between the
needs of business and industry and the skills
of potential employees. In October 2018, the U.S.
Department of Labor reported that there were 7
million job openings in the country. For us, that
means continuing the development of partner-
industry. For you, it means that there is still a
great need to develop the programs and services
that bridge the skills gap that may exist in your
The truth is, I don’t see the focus on workforce
development as fleeting. And you know as well as I do
that these types of workforce education programs are
essential to the makeup of most community colleges.
You’re already doing this and so much more. With
declining enrollments, shrinking budgets and
multiple priorities, how can you stretch even further?
It may be easier than you think to use what you
already have. There is no need to recreate the wheel
when your current programs can serve as a roadmap to more success. Ask yourself what is working
well and what does that structure look like? Is
there an administrator or faculty member who is
passionate about expanding access or creating a
program? Is there a foundation board member who
works in a local industry that is struggling to
find well-trained employees? Engage these leaders
to serve as models to others that may be able to help
advance programs or partnerships. By doing so,
you can better distribute the workload while providing valuable experience for the next generation
of community college leaders.
Talk about a win-win. These opportunities can
benefit students, the community, faculty and staff
and you as you navigate the multiple needs and
priorities of your organization. At AACC, we are
able to shine a spotlight on the regional programs
and services that keep Americans working and to
position the nation’s community colleges as the
provider of choice for workforce education. We can
continue to do that because of your efforts and know
that you continue to build and nurture pathways to
well-paying jobs that fulfill the needs of your local
businesses and communities.
Like politics, all workforce development is local
and we know that you are doing your part to ensure
that your community benefits from your programs.
At AACC, we will continue to advocate for policies
and funding that recognize the continued leadership of our member colleges in workforce education
initiatives. We will work together with policymak-ers to ensure that community colleges remain in
the forefront of discussions pertaining to worker
training and work together with them to proactively
develop strategies that enhance your abilities to
Walter G. Bumphus is president and CEO of the American Association of
Building and nurturing
By Walter G. Bumphus