Julie Neal (Independent Researcher, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4083-0.ch003
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The demand for accountability and measurement regarding educational programs in community colleges makes the decision-making process of advisory committees more important than ever. The role of the advisory committee for educational workforce programs is changing, and becoming increasingly necessary, due to legislative actions and consistent changes in the workforce. Business, industry, and higher-education institutions are adapting programs to fit thriving regional economies, and calling upon advisory committees to make major decisions within their organizations. Perceptions of and experiences with the decision-making processes that educational practitioners and workforce advisory-committee members utilize to make informed decisions for workforce-education programs are vital to their success. This chapter reveals the best practices that business and industry use to make informed decisions, including how to utilize those practices to include educational entities.
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The decision-making process for workforce programs is complicated, due to constant changes in industry, curriculum modifications, and stakeholders (Day, 2001; Kilcrease, 2011). The complication can be reduced for educational institutions, workforce, and business and industry, as they will benefit from the shared experiences of diverse individuals suggesting specific guidelines to aid an advisory committee in its decision-making. The experiences of administrators in college workforce and technical programs, as well as those of business executives, shared proven practices, recommendations, and advice for selection of the advisory members, help to guide advisory committees in the decision-making process for workforce programs.

The heart of these collaborations is the role of the advisory committees and their decision-making processes. Advisory committees use the knowledge of committee-member experts to make decisions regarding workforce-education programs. Influential members of the community make up the advisory committee, working in conjunction with the local community college to offer relevant advice and generate support (Carlson et al., 2011; Soares, 2010). Their varied expertise in specialized areas of the workforce enables them to advise the committee on key decisions, to produce needed quality programs. It must be pointed out that individuals make decisions every day while going about their daily activities. However, many decisions are simple and take little consideration; others can have overwhelming ramifications. Finding individuals to include on the advisory committee, who have a proven track record; ownership and pride with regard to their decisions; and a true sense of obligation for the commitment the committee is making, can serve the committee best.

The decision-making process that advisory committees use can also advance higher-education practice. The advisory committee provides processes and strategies that educational practitioners and members of the committee use, which they perceive to be effective in making informed decisions about workforce education programs. The decision-making process for the college workforce and technology programs involves collaboration with key individuals, as well as local business and industries, and has wide-ranging ramifications for the parties involved (Bess & Dee, 2011). These key business and industry leaders combine their skills and experiences, in efforts to produce a quality education program. Current leaders in business/industry and from the community-college workforce initiatives provide direction for the committee to use in the decision-making process, when determining what programs to expand, add, or discontinue, and how to do it. Business leaders have managers who can share their past and current experiences, to advise the workforce-education administrators on when to cut or add programs (Burke & Miller, 1999). These insights also help college leaders discover new program opportunities that would be beneficial in a particular region, and inform leaders about potential expansion or closure of existing programs. Since the advisory committee is made up of diverse business and industry personnel making decisions based on member collaboration to face unexpected challenges, an understanding of the decision-making process for both entities is beneficial to the productive outcome of the advisory committee (Burke & Miller, 1999).

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