Community Colleges and Contract Training: Content, Origins and Impact
by Kevin J. Dougherty & Marianne F. Bakia - 2000
Over the last three decades, most community colleges have broadened their economic development role to include contracting with employers to train current or prospective employees in job and academic skills. This article describes the main contours of the community college's involvement in contract training, explains how this involvement arose, and analyzes its impact on the community college. This analysis is based both on national data on the general prevalence and form of contract training and on case studies of the forms it takes in twenty community colleges in five stages servicing five quite different industries. Contract training is sometimes quite elaborate, as in the case of entry-level training of skilled workers in auto manufacturing, auto repair, and construction. Here the training often involves multiyear apprenticeships, combining both classroom and on-the-job training, with labor unions exercising a major role. But contract training often is much briefer and dominated by the wishes of companies. The origins of contract training lie in a combination both of business pressure and of initiative by community colleges and government bodies pursuing interests and values of their own. Contract training has broadly affected community colleges in such areas as enrollments, revenues, external relations, governance, internal relations, curriculum and pedagogy, and institutional mission. It has brought more students, revenues, and political clout, but also greater business involvement in community college governance and possibly a major redefinition of institutional mission away from education (especially transfer education) toward training.
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