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Innovation Strategies for a New System of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning: The Challenge of Today and the Vision of Tomorrow

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL)
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The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning examines the challenges of today’s workforce development and offers innovative solutions to some of the challenges. The intent of the paper is to promote a national conversation among adult education practitioners and policy-makers about the need for a higher skilled labor force, and for workers to continuously hone marketable skills to remain employable. The importance of developing a system to include educators, employers, labor organizations, and Career One Stops to meet the skill demand is evident in this report. The report addresses recent trends; the innovation hypothesis; innovation and performance measures; families of innovation needed in a workforce development system (i.e., financing, credentials and assessment, navigation, linkages, delivery of instruction); and potential partners. Adult educators, administrators, and policy-makers will find suggestions on making needed changes to our workforce development system that will improve practice.

What the Experts Say: 

This 17-page paper is accurately described as “the start of a national conversation about innovation in workforce development and lifelong learning.” It provides a history of how work has changed, an extensive framework for identifying areas of possible improvement, and a call for resources to develop a connected system. The vision is large, comprehensive and would serve as a good overview piece before policy-makers convened to make changes in workforce development policies. There are several ideas presented for system innovation valuable to adult education practitioners that discuss how to pay for the system, how to deal with credentials and assessment, how to define and navigate the system, how to link all the components and how to deliver instruction. The most important part of this paper is the description of trends in workforce development that have shown promise in the creation of a better functioning system. These include:

  • Learning that takes place on the job such as apprenticeships and internships
  • Measuring impact or return on investment
  • Customizing degree programs for companies and offering these programs on-site
  • Responding to the changing demographics of the workforce
  • Responding to the impact of technology
  • Providing comprehensive pipeline strategies
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