This brief highlights lessons from the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) Centers of Excellence model, which has redesigned each of the system’s seven campuses as a “college-to-career center” and consolidated academic programs in high-demand industries at particular campuses. The model incorporates features of sectoral training programs, which prepare people for quality jobs in specific industries and occupational clusters—sectors of the labor market—where there is strong local demand and the opportunity for career advancement.

Evidence from studies of similar sector-focused training models outside of the community college setting suggests that the Centers of Excellence model could be a promising one for other large community colleges systems to emulate, and that it could even have important lessons for smaller systems and stand-alone community colleges. In a system in which each college focuses on a single sector or cluster of related sectors, colleges can be more responsive to employers, become the central point of contact for employers in a given sector, and, in the process, help ensure that students will obtain the skills and education that employers need and that will lead to good jobs with opportunities for career growth.

Read the full article about sectoral training by Betsy L. Tessler and Erika B. Lewy at MDRC.