Workforce Development and Higher Education Partnerships: Transdisciplinarity in Practice

Workforce Development and Higher Education Partnerships: Transdisciplinarity in Practice

Sheena Copus Stewart (Auburn University, USA), James E. Witte (Auburn University, USA) and Maria Martinez Witte (Auburn University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9531-1.ch025

Abstract

Workforce development and higher education can benefit from collaborative efforts that incorporate and apply teaching, learning, and research from a variety of environments. This chapter introduces the context of workforce development innovation and the impact on employees. Partnerships, in general, are defined and workforce development and higher education partnerships are examined that have influenced building collaborative relationships. Also included is a review of best practices and future trends related to workforce development and higher education partnerships.
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Introduction

For most educators in today’s well-connected and technologically driven society, partnerships—either in at will, general, limited, joint venture, or a strategic alliance—are mandatory to succeed. Particularly, organizations in higher education and business and industry, have found the purpose of partnerships advantageous—to increase innovation. Even as advancements in technology occur daily, there continues to be the need for a framework, conceptualization, and best practices of cross-sector partnerships between higher education and business and industry regarding workforce development initiatives. The culture surrounding partnerships has changed and all stakeholders are expected to be active participants, contributing both constructive feedback for improvement as well as solutions for advancement and innovation.

Over the last several decades, the nature of workforce development in the United States has grown increasingly complex (Kompier, 2006). Organizations operate in a variety of different contexts to build and retain their workforce and employees can span five generations (Kowske, Rasch, & Wiley, 2010). This is especially true for manufacturing industries, who continue to be dependent on skilled and certified workers to operate, build and produce manufactured goods and products. In a study conducted by Soltesz, Rutkofsky, Kerr and Annunziata (2016), seventy percent of manufacturing executives reported talent shortages in advanced manufacturing areas such as computer automation, technology training (i.e., 3D printing), and technical skill training (robotic programming, maintenance/repair). During the late 1990’s, the United States experienced a rise in global competition and as a result, industrial manufacturing jobs began to diminish and were replaced by more service-oriented organizations. The Clinton administration delivered signed legislation, the Workforce Investment Act (WIA) in August 1998 which was aimed at addressing the concerns of employers by restructuring publicly available jobs and training services to the nation’s citizens (Ellis, 2001). A decade later, the WIA provided limited evidentiary support in meeting the purpose and objectives set forth in the original rollout, thus prompting legislators to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to replace the WIA (Spaulding, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

University and Industry Center: Refers to sustained partnerships among business, industry, academic institutions, and/or government entities in which there are mutual contributions and benefits.

Workforce Investment Act (WIA): Passed by Congress in 1998, this act provides federal funds for employment and training assistance.

Employee Retention: Refers to an organization’s ability to retain their employees. Efforts to maintain current employees may focus on enhancing job satisfaction and reducing costs involved in hiring and training new employees.

Higher Education: Refers to education beyond high school or at the post-secondary level. It may include educational institutions such as universities, colleges, community colleges, vocational schools, trade schools, or institutes.

Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA): Effective 2014, this act assists job seekers with employment, education, training, and support services needed to be successful in the labor market.

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