Statement of Dr. Karen A. Stout On Proposed Partnership Tax Credit


Silver Spring, MD (January 5, 2016) – Businesses and local community colleges have long enjoyed a collaborative relationship – from participating in developing curriculum to providing work-based learning opportunities for students.  Many Achieving the Dream colleges have been engaging employers very successfully, updating curricula, establishing on-site learning and internships, and sharing information with students about the demand for specific skills in the local labor market. For example, Achieving the Dream’s Northeast Resiliency Consortium, a group of seven New England community colleges, have worked as a group to develop close ties with businesses to create pathways to positions in industries like IT and health care that enable communities to rebound from disasters.

But we know more can be and needs to be done.  Middle-skills jobs account for more than half of the country’s labor market, and middle-skills jobs in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) have an average salary of $53,000. These are the jobs expected to grow significantly over the next decade and also the ones that employers today say they cannot find workers to fill.  
President Obama’s new proposal to offer businesses a financial incentive to strengthen their relationships with local community colleges recognizes that more can be done to fill this gap.  By offering incentives for employers to work with community colleges directly to design and even participate in classroom teaching, the proposal builds on effective models already tested through Achieving the Dream colleges.  An enhanced relationship with employers will ensure that the students completing these programs are ready for the workplace.  Apprenticeships and other work-based learning are a key part of this equation of success for the students and the participating employers.  

Employers and employer organizations have been calling for workforce training tax credits, among these the U.S. Chamber.  This proposal is a key step in that direction and a means to close the skills gap for the vital middle skill jobs so critical to our nation’s economy today and in the future.  

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Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.

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