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Workforce Initiative

The League for Innovation's interest in the corporate relationships of community colleges can be traced to the earliest years and activities of the organization, but its current focus stems from a seminal meeting held in 1990, when the Business and Industry Services Network (BISNET) was formed to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and information between the member institutions. Soon it became clear that more formal mechanisms were needed to coordinate information, facilitate communication, disseminate information, and assist in organizing collaborative projects. The idea of an alliance of community colleges with business and industry arose, and with encouragement from several corporate leaders, the League sponsored a Community College Business and Industry Forum in Dallas, Texas, in early 1992. At this meeting, attended by representatives of 23 corporations, the League was urged to develop a national effort to coordinate information, activities, and collaborative projects that would assist community colleges in serving the training needs of business, industry, government, and labor.

At about the same time, it became clear that much more information was needed about what community colleges were doing in the corporate arena and in 1992, the League embarked on a comprehensive national study that investigated the scope of community colleges' involvement in workforce training. More than 725 colleges responded to the survey, which revealed that 96 percent of community colleges provided workforce training for employees of business, industry, government, and labor. As a result of these findings, and with the expressed support of corporate partners such as the Student Loan Marketing Association, National Computer Systems Corporation, IBM, Eastman Kodak, and Xerox, as well as community college organizations such as the American Association of Community Colleges, the Continuous Quality  Improvement Network, ED>Net, the Coalition of Advanced Technology Centers, and others, the League advanced an ambitious ten-point agenda to promote the expansion and improvement of community college workforce development programs. This agenda, expressed in a white paper entitled The Workforce Training Imperative: Meeting the Training Needs of the Nation, formed the core of what has become a major strategic focus of the League, the Workforce Initiative.

The Workforce Initiative serves as an umbrella for a wide-ranging set of projects and activities. It serves as topic stream in Innovations, the League's annual international conference on innovation in the community college. The Innovations' stream on workforce development is designed to help community colleges understand and address the tremendous issues involved in ensuring that the nation's work force is competitive in the global marketplace. 

Working continuously with key corporate partners, the League is involved in a variety of efforts to assist community colleges, including: sponsoring conferences, workshops, seminars, training, and showcases for innovative workforce development activities; disseminating information about model programs and practices in community colleges through publications such as newsletters, monographs, and special reports; and conducting focused special projects that develop, demonstrate, or evaluate innovative workforce development activities in community colleges.