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Central Piedmont Community College also regularly engages in a state-mandated program review process, viewing this process as an opportunity to develop meaningful ways to measure outcomes. In addition, to start a new program, the college has a program development model that includes four stages: market research, development, delivery, and evaluation.
Central Piedmont is also working on conducting better evaluations of its existing programs. Milwaukee Technical College is working to develop stronger ways to measure noncredit student outcomes, and is trying to get better information on whether its students are satisfied and if its courses help them in the workforce. Unlike credit programs that are required to track and report on their students, noncredit programs order custom essays online are not consistently required to collect data.
In general, as is the norm elsewhere, the case study colleges collect and tabulate data on student enrollment only when required by the state, and data on student outcomes are limited. In addition, more data on the value of noncredit workforce education for students are needed, and new research should elicit information on the utility of various recorded outcomes for different student populations. Similarly, a better understanding of the outcomes employers value could provide guidance to local programs. Conclusions and Recommendations Noncredit workforce education can play an important role in responding to local labor market demands. It can serve the workforce needs of employers and the needs of individual students for immediate skills. Community college noncredit workforce education can have a central role in states that choose to prioritize funding to support career pathways as part of their workforce development agenda. Community colleges have the unique ability to connect short-term training to long-term educational programs leading to degrees and credentials, and they can ensure access to workforce training programs for disadvantaged populations. State policies on funding and reporting requirements and on college-level organizational structures have important implications for the delivery of community college noncredit workforce education.
States that provide general funds for noncredit workforce education promote workforce development and help students to access credit education by cultivating better ties to career pathways. The case study colleges located in states with state general funds for noncredit workforce education were more likely than colleges without such funding to integrate noncredit programs with credit programs, to connect noncredit students to degree programs, and to have some full-time credit faculty involvement in noncredit programs. While state general funds are associated with greater regulation, the case study colleges provide little indication that regulations diminish the freedom or innovation of noncredit workforce education.
State funds can help ensure that workforce development programs are accessible to low-income individuals. For states that prioritize supporting career pathways as part of their workforce development agenda, community college noncredit workforce education can play a unique role by connecting students to degree programs. Further, since community colleges may seek to offer noncredit workforce education to generate profit, states should support noncredit programs that are necessary but might not be offered to generate profit.
Both California and North Carolina have funding policies consistent with this approach. Since many states view noncredit workforce education as important to their workforce development goals, increasing the skill level within local communities and promoting economic growth may be considered a public good. Indeed, regardless of whether they use integrated or separate organizational structures for managing their credit and noncredit programs, the case study colleges sought to achieve an integrated organizational approach by balancing the tradeoffs associated with each structure type. They encouraged collaboration and sharing of innovative programs ideas. States may encourage credit-noncredit relationships by requiring colleges to report on the ways that noncredit workforce education innovations are shared within the college or by including funding incentives to encourage collaboration between noncredit and credit programs. Furthermore, documenting specific successful organizational practices will help promote better alignment of noncredit and credit among community college staff. Integrated organizational structures may be order custom essays online somewhat more likely to help connect noncredit students to credit programs and to involve faculty members more directly in noncredit education. Therefore, when possible, and particularly when colleges are supported by state general funds, moving toward an integrated organizational structure may help colleges better serve their noncredit education students.
The organizational change to integrate noncredit and credit programs requires an investment of institutional resources, however, and may not be right for all colleges.
Thus, efforts to increase coordination and promote an integrated organizational approach without restructuring can be a useful strategy to promote connections among programs, faculty, and students. States and colleges would do well to examine how noncredit workforce education fits into a larger system of career pathways. While not all noncredit students need or want to pursue a degree, some do. For them, noncredit workforce education can provide an entry to a career pathway that allows for advancement. States and community colleges can implement mechanisms that create better ties between noncredit workforce order custom essays online education and credit degree programs, whereby noncredit program students can serve as an internal market for credit programs.
Such mechanisms include marketing credit programs to noncredit students and developing procedures to transfer noncredit to credit. In addition, colleges should develop clear criteria for deciding whether a course should be offered in a noncredit or credit.
In some 52 instances courses may be more productively located in credit order custom essays online programs if they can be integrated into a degree program. Faculty determine credit courses that lead to an academic credential through an institutional process authorized by an accreditation agency. The way that accreditation agencies will view procedures for defining noncredit and articulating it with credit is only beginning to become evident.
In contrast with other types of training providers, community colleges can provide pathways that allow students to gain specific workforce skills with immediate value and, also, to pursue a college degree with broader labor market value.