In the midst of a slow economic recovery and at a time when the national dialogue is focused on the need for job creation and growth, Corporate Voices for Working Families has released four new micro-business cases that are part of a series spotlighting how the business community can play a positive role in creating a more productive and competitive workforce.

These new micro-business cases document Learn and Earn partnerships that the Health Careers Collaborative, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Walmart and the Western Association of Food Chains (WAFC) have formed with higher education institutions and government to help their workers complete their postsecondary education and gain valuable workforce skills. The cases are available online at:

“It is important to share how best-practice companies are creating innovative Learn and Earn partnerships because today, so many college students must work to support themselves and their families. Employers have a unique role to play as ‘empowerment points’ to help students complete their postsecondary education through tuition assistance, flexible scheduling and collaborating with higher education institutions,” said Stephen M. Wing, president of Corporate Voices.

These micro-cases highlight: the collaboration of the Health Careers Collaborative between UC Health, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Cincinnati State Technical and Community College and Great Oaks Career Campuses; Walmart’s partnership with American Public University (APU); PG&E’s partnership with Workforce Investment Boards and community colleges throughout California in its PowerPathway™ program; and the Western Association of Food Chain’s Retail Management Certificate (RMC) Program, which it has formed in partnership with 135 community colleges in 10 western states.

According to a recent Associated Press-Viacom survey and a report published by Workplace Flexibility 2010 at Georgetown Law, financial problems and a lack of scheduling flexibility at work are two of the most significant barriers to college completion in America. Today’s 21st century students have unique characteristics—they are likely to need to work, have dependents or are likely to be caregivers. Partnerships between employers and higher education institutions, therefore, can play a meaningful role in helping working learners balance work with school, finance their education and gain valuable credentials with labor market value. Learn and Earn partnerships like these will help ensure that America leads the world with the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020, a goal President Obama set so that American businesses can be competitive in the global economy.

Increasing college completion rates is vital for our future economic prosperity, as 63 percent of all American jobs will require some sort of postsecondary education by 2018, according to a study by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. This is sobering, given that most adults today have not earned a college degree or a certificate. Learn and Earn partnerships between employers and higher education will play a critical role in investing in the education and skills of our workforce to compete in today’s complex economy and the global marketplace of the future.

Corporate Voices’ Learn and Earn initiative is made possible by the generous support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and its Postsecondary Success Strategy.