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2014 May 13 - 02:45 pm

Community Colleges: The Perfect Enterprise for the 21st Century

The 21st Century global economy, workforce, culture and society have created opportunities and promises warranting a fresh exchange of ideas, collaboration, innovation, education, and global mindshare in an open, innovative and comprehensive setting. This approach will provide a doorway for partnerships among countries, agencies, colleges, and students to build a world-class workforce which thrives in an expanding global ecosystem.

No enterprise is better-positioned or has a better track record than American community colleges to reach this goal. In fact, the notion and creation of community colleges should be recognized as America’s most impactful contribution to a local and global education, and the most effective enterprise for workforce development.

No other country provides the same visionary and adaptive concept as the American community colleges. Accreditation, affordability and workforce solutions make community colleges the perfect enterprise for the 21st Century.

As more emerging countries are shaping the world, the need for affordable education and a sustainable workforce solution are critical to sustained growth and global competitiveness. Community colleges have engineered a viable model to build and uphold the middle class in any country. The community college model creates opportunities for students around the world who would otherwise be unable to obtain an education or training for meaningful employment. Students in other countries want opportunities to be part of globalization by acquiring competent skills to improve their lives and those of their families and to contribute to their respective communities.

The Lone Star College System has taken a systemic approach to its globalization. Its approach provides opportunities to every member of the college — students, faculty, staff, administrators and the larger community — to be part of globalization. Some of the initiatives include:

• Faculty international exploration: An award for faculty members to explore the world, to internalize their curricula and/or design a study abroad program.

• Study abroad: An academic program for students led by faculty in another country.

• Study abroad student scholarships: A need-based scholarship for students to study abroad.

• International partnerships: Partnership with multinational companies, foundations, and countries in providing solutions and generating new revenues.

• International education conference: An event to learn, participate, and engage the community on international issues.

Located in more than 100 countries, the British Council is the Foreign Service arm for the United Kingdom’s international education, exposing people around the world to British culture, including English, the arts, education and their ways of living and organizing society. The United States has a similar design, EducationUSA, which strives to foster mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those from other countries. EducationUSA is a U.S. Department of Statesupported network of hundreds of advising centers around the world.

Despite the British Council brand and outreach, the United States is still considered the best destination in providing higher education and employment solutions.

Solution providers are becoming much more competitive in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, China, India, Australia and Europe; however, the American community college approach is considered the best model for workforce solutions and international student affordability.

In 2013, the British Council issued a report on global mobility, titled, The Future of the World’s Mobile Students to 2024. The report focuses on student mobility, higher education global trends and emerging opportunities to 2020. Their research extends the forecasts of key international student mobility indicators and markets to 2024, to better understand the possible effects of the future global environment. According to the forecast, by 2024, nearly 4 million outbound mobile higher education students are expected globally (up from 3.04 million in 2011), with India and China contributing 35 percent of global growth. India, China, Indonesia, and the United States will be home to more than 50 percent of the world’s 18-22 year old population.

The forecast suggests that the United States will be the major beneficiary of the growth of outbound students from China and India. It also provides a great tool for community colleges to strategize their role as affordable education providers for the world.

In 2011, Cisco published a white paper called, Transitioning to Workforce 2020, indicating that the “workforce world” is changing as we speak. Community colleges are very flexible in addressing these global workforce shifts. The findings show how rapidly skills, knowledge and technology are changing. Cisco identified some valuable findings as we aim to meet workforce challenges and solutions:

Change is accelerating, uniformity is giving way to diversity, and complexity has become every leader’s biggest concern. As for businesses, globalization and a rapidly evolving workforce are redefining how we think about competence, creativity, productivity and the structuring of organizations.

Socio-economic trends are affecting modern employment, including globalization, demographics and technology.

There are shifting expectations among skilled employees, changes in job roles, work environments, organizational cultures and learning. Organizations will need to establish new baselines for developing value propositions and enhancing employee engagement. In today’s world, expertise has a notoriously short shelf life, especially in fields closely associated with technology.

Young workers expect to be able to sharpen their skills and add to their professional credentials while on the job.

The global workforce and the ways in which work is structured and rewarded are undergoing fundamental changes. Some of these transformations are generational and cultural. Others are the result of globalization, new technology, market shifts and altered perceptions about the roles that jobs play in the lives of individuals and communities. In the next decade, organizations of all kinds will need to adapt to new workforce realities or face the prospect of losing or failing to attract top talent.

The English language is used, in some form, by roughly 4 billion people worldwide. Only Chinese-Mandarin is more commonly spoken, but even in China, an estimated 350 million people know at least some English.

Our world is rapidly transforming. Globalization is “Glocalization”! It is happening with each one of us, with our families, and in our communities.

The Lone Star College System has been recognized for embracing Glocalization. The college system won the 2014 Andrew Heiskell Award for Excellence and Innovation in International Education and the 2013 Senator Paul Simon Award for Comprehensive Campus Internationalization. According to the Open Doors report, Lone Star ranked fourth among community colleges in the number of international students in 2012-13.

By establishing LSC-University Park, the Lone Star College System has created a model for the college of the 21st Century. Through our vision and action, we have redefined our community to be the world. We do understand that we cannot do it alone and need our colleagues and peers to join us in this sacred mission. Remember, it is OUR world — let’s innovate and be a solution!

Shah Ardalan is Lone Star College- University Park’s first president and a member of the Lone Star College System Executive Council. Prior to becoming president in September 2012, Ardalan served as LSC-University Park’s chief executive officer (CEO).

Nithy Sevanthinathan is chief international officer (CIO) for Lone Star College System (LSCS) International Programs & Strategic Global Partnerships.

This article is the continuation of a series authored by principals involved in the Roueche Graduate Center, National American University, and other national experts identified by the center. John E. Roueche and Margaretta B. Mathis serve as editors of the monthly column, a partnership between the Roueche Graduate Center and Community College Week. For additional information send emails to mbmathis@national.edu.

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