Barriers and promising strategies for navigating community college and the labor market

The Aspen Institute has released “Helping Adult Learners Navigate Community College and the Labor Market” – a brief focused on the barriers adult students face in enrolling in community college, completing a degree, and using that degree to launch a productive career. The brief also includes promising strategies to overcome these challenges from a study of six “Courses to Employment” partnerships of community colleges, community-based organizations, local workforce agencies, and others. The partnerships received funding from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
Although the brief is focused on those enrolling for the first time, many of the challenges, as well as the strategies for overcoming them, are relevant to adults returning to postsecondary education with significant college credit but no degree.
In particular, providing intensive college and career advising and developing strong partnerships with community-based organizations and local workforce centers to reach and engage adult learners are important to help them succeed. Additionally, like those returning to college with credits, adults enrolling for the first time can be “ping-ponged” around campus as they seek to enroll; providing comprehensive enrollment support, with multiple campus departments represented, in off-campus locations can help alleviate this.
The partnerships also place a heavy focus on ensuring that adult learners receive extensive career counseling, both to guide their course selection and to help them navigate the job-hunting process after they earn their degrees.

For further information, see the Aspen Institute’s Workforce Strategies Initiative website


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