Role of Community Colleges & Global Workforce Development

IIE hosted a recent  Summit on the Occasion of the G8, entitled “International Education: A Global Economic Engine” which brought  together more than 30 high level delegates from 15 countries and the EU in Washington, DC on May 2 and 3, to engage in a hands-on discussion of national priorities and educational cooperation among nations, with the goal of making international education a pillar of binational and multilateral engagement.

Global mobility in higher education – the exchange of students and scholars – is an economic engine that fuels the economy of both home and host countries, keeps our universities vibrant and competitive, and prepares the future workforce to meet global challenges. International education is a multi-billion dollar industry that is a major service-sector “export”. But more importantly, it fosters innovation and strengthens commercial and diplomatic ties between nations. 

“The community college system is of great interest” in U.S. efforts to promote international education, U.S. Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter told the delegates.

Nice to read of this renewed interest in the value of our community colleges.  As a grad student in India in 1975, I was helpful to our embassy in New Delhi when it hosted the first visiting community college President, Seymour Eskow, from Rockland CC in NYS. At that time, there was ongoing support from the Danish government to promote the concept of its Folk High School movement as a means of educating farmers in south India.

President Obama deserves, I believe, much credit for his administration’s focus – and resource allocation – on our community colleges.  The are, and have always been, a gateway to higher education for most minority students in the U.S.  And now, in our economic slump. many more middle class families are turning to the system as a way to pay for their children’s college education.

We need to increase educational “gateway” curricular offerings to supply talent in specialized industries and cutting edge technologies. Community colleges are in the forefront of maintaining ties with workforce training needs.

One Comment on “Role of Community Colleges & Global Workforce Development

  1. Indeed. Community colleges are a vital link in connecting people in disparate parts of the world around the global issue of education. Realizing education broadly is necessary to engage the largest number of people and to counter the ever-increasing costs of higher education which have relegated high-ed for the world’s wealthy. The billions of people globally can fight against the corporatization of high ed by supporting community colleges, online learning, and “free” offerings granted through courses in Open University programs.

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