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Exploring the Implications of Rapid Technological Change on Community College Workforce Training

July 2019–December 2021

In collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Task Force on the Work of the Future, CCRC is examining how employers’ adoption of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and robotics is impacting workforce education programs at community colleges, with a focus on programs and practices that offer meaningful opportunities for low income and underrepresented students to advance economically.

Through intensive fieldwork at a select group of community colleges, this study examines content (what needs to be taught); organizational design (e.g. credit/noncredit distinctions, scheduling); and pedagogy (online, in-class, work-based) that may need to be adjusted to accommodate new technologies and shifting skill demands. Researchers will also meet with employers during site visits to understand their perspectives on how their workplaces and industries are changing; the skills students need to be successful at work; and what they can do to help community colleges redesign curricula and connect more students to work-based learning opportunities, apprenticeships, and jobs. Findings will help community college programs that train workers for middle-skill jobs in industries impacted by technological change to create and strengthen pathways to quality credentials and employment. As part of this project, CCRC and the MIT Task Force will also convene community college workforce leaders to discuss innovative and promising practices identified through fieldwork and solicit advice on how best to communicate these to the broader field. Paul Osterman is leading the work for MIT.

This project is funded by Lumina Foundation and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.