Current perspectives of statewide Workforce Investment Board members toward community college workforce investment programs

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University of Alabama Libraries

ABSTRACT In 1996, Congress passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (welfare reform), which, using the mechanism of the existing state Human Resource Investment Councils (HRICs) created by the Job Training Partnership Act Amendments of 1992, held out the promise of improving effective coordination among and across state agencies responsible for persons served by employment and training, school-to-work, adult education, and welfare-to-work programs. A 1997 study entitled "Perceptions of State Human Resource Investment Council Members toward Workforce Development Programs at Community Colleges" and conducted by Thomas M. Konz at the University of Toledo revealed that HRIC members were very familiar with missions and functions of community colleges and the important role they played, but that funding was inadequate to the assigned tasks. In this 2009 study, Konz's 1997 methodology is replicated through a descriptive survey, with 119 respondents representing 37 states. This study examined perceptions of State Workforce Investment Board (SWIB) members (the successor to HRICs, created by the Workforce Investment Act) regarding community college involvement in employment, training, training for the long-term unemployed, and adult education programs, and how perceptions varied from Konz's 1997 study. Recommendations: First, a follow-up study should be done to determine if community colleges should be considered more as "strategic partners" or as typical vendors and what impact this understanding would have on the routing of funding to community college job-training programs. Second, derived from the literature review, there is a continuing need for quality data on workforce investment programs, so a new data system solution must be provided. Third, in future surveys terminology should be modified to reflect meanings understood by both State Workforce Investment Board members and community college practitioners. Fourth, community colleges need to better communicate their role, and funding needs to be enhanced, requiring better organizing to impact state-level policy makers and "influencers" such as state SWIB members. Fifth, university-based training for SWIB members should be provided in either a certificate seminar or in for-credit courses to help SWIB members understand not only their role but also how they fit into their comprehensive state workforce investment systems.

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Higher education administration, Community college education, Education finance