Expanding the Mission: Community Colleges and the Functions of Workforce Intermediaries
The U.S. labor market has changed dramatically—a situation that is painfully obvious to the millions of people who struggle to find good jobs with family-supporting wages. Global competition, deregulation, and technological developments, all compounded by the current economic crisis, have led many employers to make do with fewer employees, flatten hierarchies, or combine job functions.
Workforce intermediaries are responding to this new terrain, offering strategies to help people enter and attach securely to the labor market. Intermediaries bring together employers, workers, and other partners to develop paths toward career advancement and family-supporting employment for low-skilled workers.
At the same time, community colleges are expanding their roles in workforce development and, in the process, often taking on many of the functions of workforce intermediaries. Rather than simply offering individual programs, community colleges are now more likely to offer an integrated set of services for entry-level and experienced workers.
JFF reviewed the growing literature on workforce intermediaries in several settings, including community colleges. This brief summarizes the findings on the key functions and characteristics of effective workforce intermediaries and highlights, examples from the field of the emerging intermediary roles of community colleges.