HD10 - Virginia Community Colleges: The Commonwealth's Link to a 21st Century Quality Workforce

  • Published: 1993
  • Author: Chancellor and Community College System
  • Enabling Authority: House Joint Resolution 416 (Regular Session, 1991)

Executive Summary:
The VCCSW As Change Agent

Building a 21st century world-class workforce is vital to the Commonwealth of Virginia's economic future. Within the decade, Virginia will intensify its participation in the global marketplace; the state's ultimate success as a player on the world economic stage will depend on the ability of its citizens to adjust to rapidly changing job conditions. Therefore, access to education and training is essential to long-term economic growth in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Community College System is uniquely positioned to lead workforce training and education efforts. Virginia's community colleges provide:

• A local and regional client base
• Financial and geographical accessibility
• A unified administrative system
• Coordinated curricula
• Lifelong-learning opportunities
• Programs targeted to meet the challenges of rapid technological, occupational, and demographic change.

The Virginia Community College System stands prepared to sustain its role as the Commonwealth's vital link in 21st century workforce training and education.

A Hub for Quality Workforce Development

Virginia's community colleges serve a culturally diverse clientele of over 224,700 students (a full-time equivalent enrollment of approximately 75,070) in 23 colleges, located throughout the Commonwealth. VCCS enrollment over the last three years has increased approximately 15 percent.

Contractual training arrangements exist with more than 700 businesses, industries and governmental agencies. Approximately 700 other special courses for Virginia employers, serving more than 21,000 employees, are provided annually.

The Virginia Community College System, in cooperation with local school districts and business/industry, provides 42 technology preparation -- known euphemistically as "tech prep" -- programs throughout the state. These programs feature a "seamless" curriculum from Grade 10 through two- and four-year degree programs, making available a new pathway to a college degree for a large segment of the Commonwealth's population who would otherwise not pursue higher education.

Numerous other projects represent the penetration of Virginia's community colleges into a wide range of business and industry training -- manufacturing technology programs, total quality management (TQM) training, and tailor-made training through business/industry/government centers and/or continuing education. Other workforce preparation activity includes work experience programs, pre-employment training, seminars/institutes, and multi-cultural projects.

Virginia's Community Colleges provide sites for the Center for Innovative Technology, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) delivery, the Quality Employee Development Network (QED), and Job Training and Partnership Act (JTPA) programs.

The Virginia Community College System has also established itself as a creative, innovative service provider to special populations and as an active partner with business, industry, government, and education in preparing "lifelong learners" -- world-class employees able to adapt to an ever-evolving high-tech environment.

Solutions to Workforce Issues Through the VCCS

A national survey by The Southport Institute for Policy Analysis concludes that companies view community colleges as the best possible source for help in setting up workplace education programs. Fully 85 percent of firms surveyed saw community college participation as central in such efforts.

Virginia's community colleges must not only provide training and education, but must also position themselves as active partners with business/industry and economic development in the areas of workforce policy, workforce restructuring, technology delivery, and adult literacy. The VCCS must team with public education in developing lifelong learners.

In view of today's educational, occupational, social, and economic issues, Virginia's community colleges can:

• Enhance educational opportunity, helping to raise the level of educational attainment within the Commonwealth, considered vital to economic and social reform.

• Provide curricula and services to reflect occupational change, emphasizing growth in the services and workforce restructuring and technological changes within manufacturing.

• Help to close the "skills gap" among American workers by developing lifelong learners who have the level of skills and flexibility to endure rapid occupational change and compete in a global society.

• Assist in developing Virginia's world-class workforce by emphasizing basic skills, the integration of academics and occupational skills, and global education.

• Expand services and increase access for special populations, the most rapidly expanding segment of society and the greatest in need of educational opportunity.

• Rapidly respond to the needs of a changing workplace by devising effective educational and training programs.

• Increase involvement with and assistance to business and industry, especially in the areas of worker training and retraining and technology development.

• Enhance assistance to small business by providing affordable and accessible training and retraining.

A Framework for Change

A Virginia Community Colleges "Quality Workforce Interlink" - a network designed to bring the community colleges into a cooperative service mission with business/industry, government, and education - is vital to the development of a 21st century world-class workforce in Virginia.

A strong, vibrant, and efficient world-class workforce can only be established in Virginia when all providers involved with training and retraining fully participate and work in unison.

Virginia's community colleges interact with numerous local and state agencies, economic development entities, schools, policy groups, and businesses/industries. By interacting and jointly seeking solutions to workforce issues, the community colleges can assist in streamlining, integrating, and providing continuous improvement in training and education services throughout the Commonwealth.

The VCCS proposes that the "Quality Workforce Interlink" be organized as described in Chapter Two. Interlink features include:

• A statewide networking mechanism -- The Interlink will be a forum through which community colleges and state agencies, education agencies, business, industry, and other special interest groups can interact, share information and act on workforce issues, policy, planning, resource development, delivery of services, and professional development.

• A quality planning approach -- The Interlink will take a quality improvement approach to planning and delivering workforce development services, determining what the user - the "customer" - needs and providing it.

• A local, regional, and state focus - The Interlink will provide a mechanism for collaboration at the local, regional, and statewide levels. Virginia's Community Colleges would be divided into "regions;" each college would be represented on its respective regional council and responsible for networking within its local college service area. Community college regional council representatives and leaders from business/industry, economic development, and education will in turn collaborate through an Interlink Statewide Council.
The VCCS 21st Century Workforce Vision

Over the past three years, Virginia's community colleges have endured alarming personnel losses. The number of full-time faculty has declined by 10 percent, and administrative and classified staff by slightly more. At the same time, enrollment has increased 15 percent. Under these circumstances, workforce development is a challenging mission - difficult but attainable.

Creative resource strategies, innovative delivery systems, restructuring of curricula and services, and collaboration among business, industry, government, and education are seen as the means to new beginnings in workforce services for the VCCS. The elimination of duplication and inefficiency among education and training providers is also essential in quality workforce development.

The Virginia Community College System envisions itself as the Commonwealth's most dynamic and strategically positioned "broker" of workforce development, providing a full range of services, technological expertise, and resources to local businesses. The workforce issues facing Virginia and the nation call for community colleges to go beyond the traditional fare of degrees, certificates, courses, and contract training.

Workforce development must begin in elementary school, intensify during middle and high schools, and continue in force through undergraduate and graduate study. Further, it must follow into the work place and continue throughout life.

To enhance access to training and education, as called for in House Joint Resolution No. 416, the Virginia Community College System will:

• Integrate workforce development into all aspects of the college's curricula and services, tailor coursework and programs to serve a culturally diverse clientele and focus upon preparation of a world-class workforce of lifelong learners.

• Become strategically involved in setting and carrying out workforce development policies within the Commonwealth, strengthening ties with statewide, regional, and local education, business/industry, and economic development groups seeking solutions to workforce issues.

• Reach out to assist business, industry, and government in developing "high performance work organizations" that can absorb a diverse labor force, are capable of competing globally as well as locally, and can endure fluctuating and long-term economic crises.

• Concentrate on investment of time, talent, and resources toward a "restructuring" of the community college curricula, instruction, and services to meet the state and nation's workforce 2000 agenda.

• Develop "creative resource strategies" and initiate policy changes that will provide an effective solution to workforce development issues.

Through the "Quality Workforce Interlink" delivery system described in Chapter 2 and other recommendations put forth in this report, the Virginia Community College System will seek to put its workforce development vision into action.

The Virginia Community College System recommendations in response to House Joint Resolution No. 416, detailed in Chapter 3, follow.

Recommendation 1:

The Virginia Community College System should establish a "Quality Workforce Interlink" with business/industry, government, and education to provide coordinated planning, development, education, training, and technical assistance for preparation of the Commonwealth's 21st century workforce.

Recommendation 2:

Each of Virginia's 23 community colleges should create a "Workforce Service," strategically positioning Virginia's community colleges to be the Commonwealth's "brokers" for appropriate types of education and training within their respective service regions and "links" to economic development, business, or other entities involved with workforce policy and planning.

Recommendation 3:

The Commonwealth of Virginia, business/industry, economic development entities, and community colleges should develop a plan for jointly funding and strategically locating regional advanced technology training centers throughout the state.

Recommendation 4:

Virginia's community colleges should be a conduit for quality improvement - first, in institutional management and delivery of services and, second, in assisting business, industry, and government clients in the development and implementation of quality management programs within their organizations. Emphasis should be on standards and assessment that will ensure quality through systematic planning, team building, and customer-supplier relationships.

Recommendation 5:

The Virginia Community College System should seek state funding for training and retraining Virginia's workforce, utilizing an appropriate non-credit formula to ensure the capability of small and medium-size businesses to participate.

Recommendation 6:

The Virginia Community College System should implement a Distance Education Telecommunications Network to assist in providing instruction, services, and professional development for the training and re-training of the Commonwealth's 21st century workforce.

Recommendation 7:

The Virginia Community College System should become the Commonwealth's key provider of small business education and training, with a focus upon curricula, instruction, and services that will encourage entrepreneurship as well as training/retraining for the existing workforce.

Recommendation 8:

The Virginia Community College System should continue to provide major leadership and support for the establishment of technology preparation programs throughout the Commonwealth, in cooperation with the Department of Education, the Department of Labor and Industry, and local school divisions.

Recommendation 9:

Virginia's community colleges should utilize instructional delivery systems that reflect business/industry standards, are outcome driven, and provide for flexible scheduling.

Recommendation 10:

Virginia's community colleges should develop a comprehensive system of apprenticeship, technical, and professional certification and associate degrees in concert with the Department of Labor and Industry and the Department of Education.

Recommendation 11:

Virginia's community colleges should be leaders in expanding their linkages with local, regional, and state economic development initiatives/entities to assure adequate training and marketing.

Recommendation 12:

The Virginia Community College System should develop new linkages and restructure partnerships with senior institutions, public/private schools, and business/industry/government to provide education and mining that is cohesive, complementary, and keyed to occupational and world-class standards across educational levels.

Recommendation 13:

Virginia's community colleges should improve and expand opportunities for adult workplace literacy, transition services and career development.

Recommendation 14:

The Virginia Community College System, in cooperation with the Commonwealth of Virginia and its multiple partners, should seek to develop and allocate adequate resources to fund the workforce development strategies essential to the education and training of a 21st century quality workforce for Virginia.