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Bolstering Employer-Educator Collaboration

The expert research, scholarship, and testimony of lived experience collected by the Commission revealed the following:

  • According to economist and workforce development expert Harry Holzer, community colleges provide the majority of job training in the U.S. (Holzer, 2013).
  • Studies have found that successful job training programs involve educators collaborating with employers to design curricula (Eyster, Anderson, & Durham, 2013; Department of Labor, 2014; Mazzara & Horowitz, 2014). In addition employers may provide instruction; sponsor work study, internship, or apprenticeship positions; and provide funds for training.
  • In their 2015 survey of employers, St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group noted that “the shortage of workers with knowledge or skills was the most frequently cited barrier to expanding employment, surpassing economic conditions and government policies or regulations” (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • When employers were surveyed about their methods for skill acquisition for their workforce, 55 percent of employers reported experiencing skill shortages (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015). When asked to report on methods to address these shortages, 83 percent of the employers surveyed reported that they “were forced to hire less experienced workers and train them,” while 41 percent reported “offering increased wages due to skill shortages” (St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group, 2015).
  • The Obama Administration put in place regulations related to gainful employment that went into effect on July 1st, 2015. The regulations were intended to address the fact that too often, “students at career colleges—including thousands of veterans—are charged excessive costs, but don’t get the education they paid for. Instead, students in such programs are provided with poor quality training, often for low-wage jobs or in occupations where there are simply no job opportunities”. To the end of preventing students from being buried in debt, the Department of Education set up the following rules for for-profit colleges:
    • More rigorous accountability, such that programs at for-profit institutions that did not pass standards and that did not improve would become ineligible for federal student aid;
    • Transparency about student success, by requiring institutions to provide information about their programs, what their former students are earning, their success at graduating, and the amount of debt they accumulated.
    • Standards for career training programs, including programs offered by for-profit institutions (Department of Education, 2014).

These findings prompted the Commission to draft several calls to action that strengthen coordination, communication, accountability, and transparency between employers and educational institutions.

To that end, the Commission issues the calls to action found below.

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Suggested Reading List

Eyster, L., Anderson, T., & Durham, C. (2013) Innovations and future directions for workforce development in the post-recession era. Urban Institute. Retrieved from:


  1. Department of Education. (2014). Obama Administration Announces Final Rules to Protect Students from Poor-Performing Career College Programs. Retrieved from:
  2. Eyster, L., Anderson, T., & Durham, C. (2013) Innovations and future directions for workforce development in the post-recession era. Urban Institute. Retrieved from:
  3. Holzer, H. (2013) Are job training programs a good way to fight poverty? Retrieved from:
  4. Mazzara, A. & Horowitz, G. (2014). The 7 habits of highly effective workforce programs. Third Way. Retrieved from:
  5. St. Louis Community College:Workforce Solutions Group. (2015). State of St. Louis Workforce 2015. Retrieved from:
  6. U.S. Department of Labor. (2014). What works in job training:A synthesis of the evidence. Retrieved from: