Although financial and cultural challenges may present initial barriers to collaboration between community colleges and industry, overcoming these differences can make a big impact on local efforts to boost workforce development.
The first section of the report makes the case for community colleges to appoint an individual (or a group of individuals) who can be primarily responsible for developing industry partnerships.
The author suggests that the liaison does not necessarily need to be a new, full-time position, and that they could be responsible for multiple roles within the community college. There is also an important role for community college leadership — especially at the president's level — to support workforce development initiatives.
While the liaison should be able to function independently, their role should be embedded within the president's office broader strategy, the report states.
Citing academic research and findings from interviews, the second section focuses on the key characteristics of productive partnerships. Some partnerships are rooted in long-term relationships, Mann notes, which can provide community college presidents with a better understanding of the types of jobs for which their students might be training.
The final section looks at practical steps for building relationships between colleges and industries. Mann recommends convening local business leaders from the for-profit and nonprofit communities as a helpful first step to building relationships with industry.
Advisory boards also allow community colleges to learn more about industry trends, hear about their graduates, and make connections with other partners. Mann concludes the report with a list of additional resources that are helpful in fostering meaningful industry partnerships.