Transformative Change Initiative Learning Lab Connects Education, Government, and Business Leaders to Innovation for Workforce Development

Posted: May 11th, 2015

TCI Learning Lab(Washington, D.C.) – At a two-day conference held February 17-18, 2015, leaders gathered from across the education, government, and business sectors to discuss scaling innovative new solutions and educational reforms in community colleges that will increase wages and job opportunities for working learners across the nation and help the nation in its economic recovery.

The 2015 Transformative Change Initiative Learning Lab, hosted by The Collaboratory and the Office of Community College Research and Leadership (OCCRL) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brought together the U.S . Department of Labor’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) consortia grantees from across the country for thought-provoking discussions and to network to advance the scaling of innovations in their grants for greater impact. The TAACCCT program provides community colleges with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs that can be completed in two years or less to provide workers with the necessary skills and credentials to receive or advance in family-sustaining wage jobs.

Leading off this year’s event was a panel of young working learners who have graduated from community college programs (developed and/or enhanced as part of the TAACCCT initiative), earned credentials, and found good jobs. The four panelists told their stories of challenges, setbacks, opportunities, and victories in their struggles to achieve success and provided the audience with insights about what helped them most and how these innovative programs can be further improved to provide better support for future participants.

The Learning Lab also featured a keynote address by best-selling author Wes Moore whose memoir, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, compares the story of two boys with the same name growing up in the same city but with two very different outcomes. “Potential is universal,” said the author during his keynote speech, “but opportunities are not.” Wes Moore owned his journey as a working learner growing up in urban Baltimore, and both his book and his presentation highlight the value of mentors, family, education, and opportunities in finding career success and life satisfaction.

The following two days of meetings, plenary sessions, and discussions included expert presentations on the future of work and learning, education innovation, prior learning assessments, career pathway programs, scaling/sustainability, and common employability skills among others. TAACCCT grantees worked in groups to discuss industry/workforce training and development innovations in manufacturing; information technology; energy, construction, and mining; healthcare; transportation and logistics, and STEM and other industries.

The Transformative Change Initiative is led by the OCCRL at Illinois and the Collaboratory and is generously supported by the Joyce and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations.  More information can be found on this initiative at http://occrl.illinois.edu/projects/transformative_change/