Programmatic Alignment to Labor Market Demand

Expect colleges to use labor market information to guide programmatic designs and course content. Requiring colleges to routinely use labor market information and employer input when making programmatic decisions would strengthen alignment between postsecondary programs and employer demand.

Recommendation 4

Programmatic Alignment to Labor Market Demand

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In today’s economy, community colleges must be able to nimbly create, expand, or wind down programs based on regional labor market trends. To increase alignment between their programs and employers’ changing demands for specific skills, community colleges should base their strategic decisions on traditional and real-time labor market information coupled with input from employers.


JFF recommends that states set clear expectations for colleges to use regional labor market information and employer input to align their programs to workforce needs. Policymakers should support the colleges’ efforts in that regard by creating accountability measures and funding frameworks that recognize that efforts to respond to employer needs may take different forms in different regions of the state, and may differ depending on how high or low the unemployment rate is. We recommend that states require colleges to assess labor market demand before establishing both new degree programs and short-term credential programs. States should also require colleges to routinely review programs to ensure that they are still relevant. And finally, states should offer incentives that encourage colleges to develop or expand programs that meet critical workforce needs.