Future of Work and Learning

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Supporting California Community Colleges’ future of work through applied research.

Enrollment at community colleges is currently declining and institutions are grappling with how to best adapt to new instructional methods and respond to changing preferences for credentials with a direct tie to labor market relevance. Research is ample on this and other  “future of work” issues, as well as issues generally related to the intersection of education and work, with studies from major think tanks and national postsecondary research institutions revealing trends, challenges, and opportunities in this space. 

Our research through the Future of Work & Learning Initiative will help the California Community Colleges system and its partners translate big ideas into viable solutions for learners at the system to institutional level.  

Applied research is defined as scientific study and research seeking to solve practical problems.

The Future of Work & Learning Initiative seeks to improve learners’ education and employment outcomes by providing the California Community Colleges (CCC) system and its partners with applied research and technical support to overcome new challenges and perennial issues exacerbated by emergent shifts in the economy. As a statewide intermediary, the Foundation generally, and the Future of Work & Learning Initiative specifically, is strategically positioned to play this role. 

The Method and Impact of Our Work

The Future of Work & Learning Initiative engages diverse stakeholders and utilizes mixed methods data and research to provide higher education and workforce development systems and practitioners with a holistic view of barriers and opportunities to help the learners, businesses, and communities they serve thrive in the present and future. We are recognized for: 

  • Centering improvement of learners’ education and career outcomes
  • Investigating issues that impact connections between learning and work
  • Including learners in the research and solution development process
  • Applying equity-minded practices to our work

The Future of Work & Learning Initiative’s projects are designed to: 

  • Dismantle systemic and structural barriers to provide student support throughout educational and career journeys 
  • Resolve programmatic, procedural, and policy obstacles to support expansion of work-based and experiential learning
  • Increase collaboration between higher education and the public workforce system for the benefit of learners served by both systems
  • Inform workforce development-related policy making and resource distribution decisions 
  • Support the design of new programs, products, and services offered by the Foundation

The Future of Work & Learning Initiative is the preeminent entity that takes major research findings on the intersection of work and learning --those that are most relevant to the state’s diverse community college and workforce population --and uncovers ways to assist institutions in making decisions about what programs they offer, how they offer these programs, who they work with, and what adjustments they make based on their own data. When applied, our findings can help institutions make incremental improvements to education delivery necessary to expand employment, career development, and living wage opportunities for learners. 

Priority Issues for Investigation

  • Understanding and enhancing employer engagement practices within the CCCs
  • Use of technology to capture information and outcomes data about public workforce system clients (learners, employers, and system partners)
  • Regional responses (organized and funded) to student and employer partner needs 
  • The impact of alternative credit and teaching methods (e.g. CPL, CBE) on learner outcomes
  • Opportunities for cross-system coordination and collaboration for the improvement of learners’ education and career outcomes
  • Increasing connectivity between education (classroom and beyond) and wraparound services to support greater learner outcomes
  • Assessing existing workforce services to inform the expansion of Career Catalyst  
  • Identifying unforeseen barriers and expressed need for effective implementation of new CCCCO policies and pilot programs

Contact Us

Lori Sanchez
Manager, Future of Work and Learning Initiative
E: LSanchez@foundationccc.org


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Foundation for California
Community Colleges

1102 Q Street, Suite 4800
Sacramento, CA 95811

Toll Free: 866.325.3222
Fax: 916.325.0844

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Help the Foundation further its mission to benefit, support, and enhance the California Community Colleges.

The Foundation for California Community Colleges is a 501(c)(3) organization (EIN 68-0412350).

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Who we serve

The Foundation serves as the official foundation supporting the Board of Governors, Chancellor’s Office, and the entire California Community College system, including 116 colleges and 73 districts, serving nearly 2 million students.

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