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The Landscape of Noncredit Workforce Education: State Policies and Community College Practices

Van Noy, Michelle; Jacobs, James; Korey, Suzanne; Bailey, Thomas R.; Hughes, Katherine Lee

Postsecondary noncredit education has become increasingly common in recent years, and at
many community colleges, noncredit education enrolls more students than credit programs.
Much of the growth has occurred in courses connected with workforce instruction and contract
training. These programs are noted for their important role in responding to shifting workforce
demands and providing skills in a way that is flexible and responsive to employer needs. The
growth in community college noncredit workforce education raises fundamental questions about
whether the colleges are keeping pace with student and workforce needs, using resources
efficiently, and providing access to all students. The answers may challenge current state policies
and college practices. Noncredit workforce education can play an important role in responding to local labor market demands by meeting the workforce needs of employers and the needs of students for immediate skills. It can also benefit students in other ways by providing access to credit programs, generating meaningful recorded outcomes for a range of student needs, and facilitating the long term pursuit of degrees. Community college noncredit workforce education can have a central role in states that choose to prioritize funding to support career pathways as part of their workforce development agenda by connecting short-term training to programs leading to degrees and credentials.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Community College Research Center
Community College Research Center, Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
April 4, 2014