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The evolving mission of workforce development in the community college

Postsecondary workforce development is one of the major innovations of the modern community college. In a workforce approach, curriculum is driven by the needs of local industry, course delivery systems are sufficiently flexible to meet the diverse needs of students and industry, and students experience a mixture of work-based and classroom learning. These features combine to help students succeed at the postsecondary level and gain important training with less than a four-year degree. This paper describes how community colleges came to be a major resource for the nation’s workforce development requirements and discusses the ways this role continues to evolve to meet the needs of students, employers, and local communities. The authors conclude by identifying major trends that will inform the future of workforce development in the American community college.