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Creating Opportunities in Health Care: The Community College Role in Workforce Partnerships

Radha Roy Biswas, with Jeremy Kelley

The nation’s 1,200 community colleges are well positioned to strengthen the workforce of one of America’s most critical sectors—health care. They can provide training and credentialing for incumbent workers in health care and to prepare new workers to succeed in and meet the workforce demands for this sector—expanding individual opportunity and economic vitality.

These institutions already enroll nearly half (46 percent) of the nation’s postsecondary population and the lion’s share of nontraditional students. They are developing or enhancing health care-related certificate and degree programs to better serve employers, workers, and communities, while also identifying unique, innovative ways for nontraditional students to access, prepare for, and succeed in these programs.

This brief highlights some of the ways in which community colleges are preparing frontline incumbent health care workers and low-income individuals for family-sustaining careers in health care careers—including advancement to allied health care and nursing jobs. A common element among the programs featured is a college’s participation in a partnership—whether one-on-one with a local health care employer or in collaboration with employers, workforce development agencies, community organizations, and other funders of and players in local and regional workforce development endeavors.

Content for this brief was informed by research from the MetLife Foundation Community College Excellence Award program and other Jobs for the Future initiatives.