This paper contends that there are specific and relatively new characteristics of community colleges and that they have implications for federal vocational education policy.
One characteristic is that postsecondary vocational education in community colleges is a highly diverse enterprise and substantially different from the secondary vocational system with respect to the range and mix of customers and institutional settings and services. This difference affects the structure and timing of the learning process, measures of performance, and uses of federal funds. It also raises the question of whether postsecondary vocational education should be treated under separate legislation to avoid the recurrent competition for funds at the federal and state levels, as well as the need for a single state agency responsible for both levels of education.
The other distinction is the implicit and explicit focus of community colleges on their regional economies. This focus influences the range of services, programs, and missions and the associated student and economic outcomes and impacts.