Filling the Skills Gap

“Community colleges are the great American invention in terms of education,” Padrón said at a recent panel discussion I attended in Aspen, Colo. Their raison d’être has always been to help grease the wheels of social mobility. But, in their earlier incarnation, they were primarily seen as a passageway to a university degree. They used to be called junior colleges, after all. Now with the skills gap such a pressing problem — and a high school education so clearly inadequate for the modern economy — the task of teaching those skills is falling to community colleges. There really isn’t another institution as well positioned to play that role. Filling the Skills Gap