Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

Recently, Corporate Voices for Working Families announced its latest publication documenting the important ways in which business leaders and postsecondary educators can collaborate to serve their mutual goals. Business and Community College Partnerships: A Blueprint, offers practical advice, best-practice models, and concrete action steps for business and college leaders who hope to start, sustain, or expand successful community partnerships.

The new blueprint was the topic of lively discussion last month in Miami when the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) hosted its annual Workforce Development Institute. The event included some 450 workplace experts, employers, policy leaders and government officials from across the nation. Peg Walton, Corporate Voices’ Senior Director of Workforce Readiness, joined them to lead a session on business-community college partnerships, and shared the perspective of Corporate Voices’ partner companies on this important work. The new partnership tool may be found here. For more information on it, or on Corporate Voices’ role at the AACC’s Workforce Development Institute, please contact Peg Walton.

On Monday, February 13, 2012, President Obama released his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 Budget. While the president’s Budget is effectively a blueprint for the next fiscal year, it also offers an early glimpse of his administration’s key priorities for both tax policy and government spending, and sets the stage for his reelection themes. Ultimately, the president’s budget proposal must traverse the divided legislative branch and its toxic atmosphere–thus, rendering another presidential Budget “dead on arrival”.

With that said, a clear picture of President Obama’s election year priorities emerges from the 2013 Budget. Corporate Voices applauds the administration’s focus on building the skills of American workers through several key proposals.  The Pathways Back to Work Fund, for example, includes continued support of the Workforce Innovation Fund, that, paired with broader waiver authority, will encourage States, regions, and localities to break down barriers among programs, test new ideas, and replicate proven strategies for delivering bet­ter employment and education results in a more cost-effective way. Similarly, the Budget also proposes a new Community College to Career Fund, an $8 billion initiative designed to improve access to job training across the nation by supporting State and community college partnerships with businesses to build the skills of American workers. For more on the proposal, please see this White House summary.

Building on its community college focus, the president’s budget also includes funding for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAA CCCT) program, to help community colleges—partnering with employers and local workforce boards–improve and expand their programs to meet local and regional labor market demands. Through rigorous evaluation, data collection, and greater use of employer collaboration and online learning, the program will help colleges advance approaches that will produce the greatest returns for their students.

In the arena of tax policy, Corporate Voices is pleased to see that the Budget permanently extends expansions of the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit that were passed in the Recovery Act and continued as part of the bipartisan Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act that the President negotiated and signed into law in December of 2010.

While the likelihood of President Obama’s FY 2013 Budget passing through Congress as it stands is very slim, Corporate Voices is encouraged to see an emphasis on building partnerships between community colleges and employers and replicating innovative training programs that produce results and help to improve the lives of America’s working families.


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