Mission and History

Our mission at CCWT is to generate evidence, educational programs, and research tools that promote the career development and wellness of students as they seek post-graduate success. In this work we center and amplify the voices and interests of all students, especially those historically marginalized in higher education and the labor market, with the aim to facilitate institutional and societal change. 

CCWT is committed to cultivating a community of scholars, practitioners and students through public seminars and symposia, applied research, and customized technical assistance to postsecondary institutions around the world. In conducting these activities, the Center’s guiding principle is to re-position research, practice, and policymaking on college-workforce issues from an exclusive focus on workforce and employers’ needs to instead prioritize the interests, perspectives, and well-being of all college and university students. Specifically, the Center aims to provide an outlet for the voices, interests, and experiences of students who have traditionally lacked representation in these debates, including but not limited to: students of color, low-income students, LGBTQ students, first-generation students, and adult students.

CCWT also views college-workforce issues as inextricably linked to three of the defining issues of our time: racial injustice, income inequality, and climate change.

Besides documenting the experiences of students making the college-to-workforce transition, research and policy analysis conducted under the auspices of CCWT will also focus on identifying effective strategies and policies for teaching, work-based learning, advising, hiring, and training that facilitate student and employee acquisition of 21st century competencies and favorable employment outcomes. In addition, research will also encompass comparative analyses of student experiences with college-workforce pathways across municipal, regional and national borders—“particularly in Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and in East Asia”—in order to shed light on promising practices and important differences across institutional and socio-cultural contexts.

History of CCWT

The Center was launched in early 2017 at a time when student employability, skills gaps, changes in the labor market, the future of higher education, and lifelong learning were being discussed and debated around the world. Underlying these debates, which continue to this day, is a growing consensus that the postsecondary system needs to pay closer attention to ensuring students are provided with 21st century competencies as well as career guidance so that they can thrive in the workplace. While the committee that helped to design CCWT felt that the increasing focus on the role of higher education in vocational preparation should not supersede the traditional functions of education to cultivate student’s intellects or sense of civic engagement, there was agreement that employability was an essential issue for many students, parents, and policymakers. Thus, a key issue facing colleges, universities, and other providers of postsecondary education in the early 21st century is how to best design the educational experience to prepare learners for long term success in their careers.

Yet absent from many of these debates were the voices and experiences of those most implicated in the future direction of higher education-workforce dynamics: those of the students themselves. Documenting students’ experiences with teaching and training, career advising, and the hiring process are essential in order to inform the design and improvement of postsecondary programs aimed at helping them make the transition from college to the workforce. In fact, ensuring that new programs, policies, and practices are grounded in the experiences of “users” and feature student (and not only employer or policymaker) voices and interests, was one of the central motivations for creating the Center.  As the Center’s portfolio of activities continues to grow and evolve, this dedication to students’ voices and perspectives will remain a cornerstone of our programs and activities.