The new vocationalism : a comparative analysis of workforce program compliance at Houston Community College System
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Using two of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) performance compliance criteria (e.g., number of graduates and placement percentages) as the standard, 32.86% of HCCS workforce programs were rated as not compliant. The researcher attempted to identify the cause of this program noncompliance as well as recommend strategies to improve the overall effectiveness of workforce programming at HCCS. The researcher looked for similarities/dissimilarities between workforce chairpersons who supervised compliant programs and those who supervised noncompliant programs. The study was guided by three research questions and used a mixed method approach. For the qualitative piece, two focus groups were conducted. Group One were 10 compliant workforce chairpersons and Group Two were 10 non-compliant workforce chairpersons. For the quantitative piece, identical survey questionnaires were electronically distributed to Group One [which consisted of 30 compliant chairpersons] and Group Two [which consisted of 13 non-compliant chairpersons]. The results from Group One and Group Two were very similar. In some instances, Group Two performance percentages were higher than their compliant counterparts in Group One. These findings led the researcher to conclude that workforce non-compliance at HCCS may not [necessarily] be the liability of the program chair but could be attributed to restrictive institutionalized policies and practice. As a result of the findings, four recommendations were made: (1) the HCCS workforce operation should consider using a centralized administrative model - having all workforce deans report [directly] to the associate vice chancellor (AVC) of workforce development rather than to 5 different college presidents. (2) HCCS should modify its workforce chair selection policy. This institutionalized policy limits workforce chairpersons to 3-year terms before they are eligible for reelection. (3) HCCS’ continuing education and corporate training offices should be merged with the office of workforce development to function as a single entity. Lastly (4), a process of program review involving community and institutional stakeholders should be implemented to evaluate the feasibility of relocating Central College’s industrial and trade programs from their urban setting closer to the industrialized areas [of Harris county near the petro-chemical and ship channel area] located near Southeast/Northeast College.