Overview of Workforce Development in Education

Overview of Workforce Development in Education

Julie Neal (Independent Researcher, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4083-0.ch001

Abstract

Workforce development focuses on economic development to boost a region's economic stability and prosperity, focusing on individuals. It is also described as the ability to sustain a workforce that can support current and future business/industry. Workforce and technical programs provide training in specialized fields to educate and prepare students to enter the workforce. Keeping in mind that business/industry requires trained employees, and employees need business/industry to create a sustainable lifestyle, decision-makers with knowledge and skills to lead their company and employees in a sustainable, prosperous direction are also required. This chapter explores workforce-development advisory committees, focusing on their relationship with community colleges and higher education. A particular focus is on the challenges growing and evolving workforce faces, and how to train and retrain to keep up with a changing and emerging workforce.
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Background

Higher education utilizes several terms to denote vocational education. These include terminal, vocational, occupational, career, technical, and workforce education (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Cohen, Brawer, Kisker, 2013). Prior to the 1940s, the term vocational denoted programs in agriculture, trades, and sales (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Cohen et al., 2014). In the 1940s, the term terminal included all studies, other than baccalaureate, leading to employment (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Cohen et al., 2014). The vocational programs were known as career education in the 1950s, geared toward younger students to acclimate them to future work, encompassing occupational and career studies (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Cohen et al., 2013). Vocational education was initially considered a necessary part of a student’s education, and for those students not seeking a terminal degree, the two-year college offered skills training that was more advanced than skills they had learned in high school (American Association of Community Colleges [AACC], 2013; Cohen et al., 2013; Cohen & Kisker, 2010).

Workforce and technical programs provide training in specialized fields to educate and prepare students to enter the workforce (Hodges, 2012). For purposes of this discussion, workforce education is the term used to identify these programs at two-year institutions. Workforce education has been an integral part of the community-college curriculum since 1862 (Cohen et al., 2013; Library of Congress, 2010). In the 20th century, the expectation of community colleges was to train workers so that the U.S. would have a supply of skilled employees for industry (Cohen et al., 2013). Workforce education in the U.S. evolved through the Morrill Act of 1862, which allowed colleges to use the proceeds from federal land sales to establish institutions (AACC, 2014; Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Library of Congress, 2010). Colleges focused on agriculture and mechanical arts, and the act created the first workforce-education initiative (Cohen & Kisker, 2010; Library of Congress, 2010).

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