UCLA Community College Review: Community College Partnerships with the Private Sector-Organizational Contexts and Models for Successful Collaboration
Kisker, Carrie B., Carducci, Rozana, Community College Review
Community college partnerships with the private sector have grown in significance in the past 15 years due to state budget shortfalls, evolving labor requirements, the need to provide a cutting-edge curriculum, and a desire to respond to local educational needs. This article discusses the essential elements for creating and maintaining mutually beneficial partnerships, and it describes several successful types and models of community college partnerships with local businesses and industry. The article concludes with a discussion of the benefits and challenges associated with community college partnerships with the private sector.
For many years community colleges have maintained close ties to local schools, governments, and community agencies. Recently, however, these colleges have expanded their local relationships to include partners in business and industry (Orr, 2001). These partnerships with the private sector have become increasingly popular over the past 15 years. In 1990, less than half of the nation's community colleges offered training programs in conjunction with local businesses. By the mid-1990s, roughly 90% of two-year colleges had joined "the business of training workers for specific companies, rather than just teaching generic subjects or trades" (Stamps, 1995, p. 36).
Several factors have contributed to the recent popularity of two-year college partnerships with the private sector. The recent economic recession is one; as a consequence of the nation's economic slowdown, many states face severe budget shortfalls and, as a way to bring expenditures in line with revenues, have reduced state appropriations for institutions of higher education (Hebel, Schmidt, & Selingo, 2002). As a result, community colleges have had to look elsewhere for financial support, and private sector partnerships have emerged as an increasingly important source of postsecondary funding (Jackson & Glass, 2000). In addition, evolving labor requirements, particularly in high tech and rural areas, have influenced the creation of community college relationships with local business and industry. Through partnerships with small and mid-sized businesses, community colleges have been extremely successful in helping high tech and rural economies grow and become more competitive (Information Technology Association of America, 2002; Regional Technology Strategies, Inc., 2001a).
Partnerships with the private sector are also influenced by the intense pressure community colleges continually face to provide innovative curriculum to their students, especially in the areas of technology and information systems. According to Daniel (2002), if community colleges are to preserve their role in training the nation's high-tech workforce, they must continue to offer cutting-edge curricula that prepare students to meet the technological demand. Private sector partnerships enable community colleges to create academic and technical training that responds to the high tech labor needs in the community (Swindle, 1999). Finally, the community college's obligation to respond to local demands has also influenced the recent popularity of partnerships with the private sector. As Anderson has stated, "The basic mission of the community college is to meet the local educational needs within the community. In providing teaching, training, personnel, and facilities to meet the needs of local businesses, government agencies, and industry, all participants can benefit" (2001, pp. 7-8).
The recent economic slowdown, evolving labor requirements, the need to provide a state-of-the-art curriculum, and a desire to respond to local demands have greatly helped community college partnerships with the private sector to grow in significance and lead to new streams of revenue for two-year colleges. In addition, they have helped to infuse state-of-the-art technology and modern business practices into contemporary community college facilities and academic programs, and they have assisted two-year colleges in reaching a previously underserved population while providing local businesses with a skilled labor force (Jackson & Glass, 2000). As community colleges have become more experienced in developing and maintaining partnerships with the private sector, many scholars have begun to identify strategies for successful partnerships, as well as to discuss some of the benefits and challenges inherent in such relationships. Similarly, community college practitioners have started to publish case studies of successful programs and have contributed to the literature on best practices for partnerships with the private sector.
This article discusses strategies for creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships and describes several successful types and models of partnerships with local businesses and industry. The article concludes with a discussion of the benefits and challenges inherent in creating and facilitating community college partnerships with the private sector.
The Essential Elements of Successful Partnerships
A review of recent community college scholarship and institutional research documents pertaining to two-year college partnerships with the private sector provides insights to the organizational qualities and leadership practices that are critical to the formulation of productive relationships. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list of traits or institutional best practices; rather it highlights several key themes that consistently emerge during examinations of successful partnerships.
First, prospective collaborators must recognize the existence of a community need or opportunity that calls for collective action (such as rising unemployment rates or the entrance of new businesses into the local economy) (Spangler, 2002; Sundberg, 2002). Embedded in this statement is the implicit expectation that community college administrators, local business leaders, and civic leaders are frequently engaged in dialogue concerning the community's economic growth, labor demands, and social welfare. Active participation in civic organizations and community boards (e.g., Chambers of Commerce, regional economic development task forces) provides community college and local business leaders with opportunities to network and identify common interests or community concerns that can be addressed most effectively and efficiently through collaboration (Sundberg, 2002).
A second critical element of successful partnerships is the establishment of shared missions and goals. As Buettner, Morrison, and Wasicek (2002) note:
Every community is made up of various entities, each with its own mission and priorities. Although the diversity and scope of the missions represented in any community are substantial, so is the overlap between them.... It is within these overlapping interests that the most promising seeds of successful partnerships are often found, for it appears that when a partnership emanates from an overlapping but noncompetitive mission, its potential and potential durability are the greatest. (p. 6)
The identification of shared organizational missions and goals necessitates that community college leaders and their business counterparts engage in frequent and candid conversations concerning their respective …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: UCLA Community College Review: Community College Partnerships with the Private Sector-Organizational Contexts and Models for Successful Collaboration. Contributors: Kisker, Carrie B. - Author, Carducci, Rozana - Author. Journal title: Community College Review. Volume: 31. Issue: 3 Publication date: Winter 2003. Page number: 55+. © 1998 North Carolina State University, Department of Adult & Community College Education. COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.