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As the White House stages a first-of-its-kind community college summit Tuesday, the Obama administration is proposing that stronger partnerships between two-year public colleges and big-name U.S. employers such as McDonald's and The Gap will help better match workers with jobs during the economic recovery and beyond.
Community college officials welcomed the new initiative, "Skills for America's Future."
But it's unclear whether the project will help meet Obama's education goals. Community colleges are short of cash, jammed with laid-off workers and students who in better times would attend four-year schools and spending heavily on remedial education for students ill-prepared for college.
For years, community colleges have worked with local employers to identify employment needs and train for them. But most efforts have stayed local, or been limited to pilot programs.
"These employers are well known and very important employers and this is being done at a national level," said Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. "It's not at the local, local level where people don't see it every much."
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