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While community colleges play essential roles in workforce development, their effectiveness varies greatly by location. Promising practices abound, yet they often are not widely replicated, concludes this report from the American Enterprise Institute.

For community colleges to fulfill their workforce development potential, state and federal leaders need to embrace a policy and funding framework that will position these important institutions to succeed across all geographies, the report suggests.

Key features of that framework would include:

  • Clearly placing community colleges at the center of state workforce development efforts.
  • Making noncredit programs that provide a healthy earnings boost eligible for federal financial aid (through a short-term Pell solution or a similar alternative).
  • Creating or strengthening state offices like VOEE that publish regional labor-market supply-and-demand insights.
  • Creating a system to publish accurate earnings outcomes for noncredit programs.
  • Investing in institutional capacity to expand access to quality coaching and work-based learning opportunities.