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  • Writer's pictureProject on Workforce Team

Data and Technology in Action: Advancing Economic Mobility at Community Colleges

The Project on Workforce is excited to announce a new research and design project with Education Design Lab’s (EDL’s) Community College Growth Engine. The joint initiative will improve the ways community colleges leverage real-time labor market information (LMI) and emerging technologies to advance economic mobility for their students. 


Past Project on Workforce research highlights the invaluable role that community colleges can play in their regional workforce and economic ecosystems. In the recent volume, America’s Hidden Economic Engines, and report, The Partnership Imperative, we highlight the ways community colleges can advance economic mobility and spur regional growth. When institutions are aligned with local employers, they are able to create better outcomes for students and businesses alike. 


Real-time LMI, like job posting analytics, are a crucial lever for institutions to align programs with employer needs and prepare students for in-demand careers. Unfortunately, many community colleges do not have access to real-time LMI, or if they do, resource constraints hinder their ability to apply it systemically. As emerging technologies like generative AI transform the labor market at a rapid pace, it will be more important than ever for colleges to stay attuned–and adapt–to real-time industry shifts.


Over the next two years, we will pair Harvard researchers and EDL designers with four community colleges and state systems to:

  • Conduct case studies on the use of real-time LMI and new technology to improve student outcomes

  • Lead design sprints to launch strategic micro-pathways, based on our research findings

  • Develop a playbook of learnings and best practices for other institutions


Funded by the Axim Collaborative, this research and implementation project will strengthen the capacity of community colleges to serve their students–helping colleges modernize systems and programs and prepare for the next wave of technological change. Our team will identify innovative models, challenges, and best practices from four distinct state systems and institutions, and apply these learnings to improve employment and earnings for students. In today’s ever-changing world, data-driven approaches will be key to expanding economic opportunity for marginalized students and fulfilling the promise of the community college system.



The Project on Workforce Team:


David Deming, Principal Investigator

Joe Fuller, Advisor 

Kerry McKittrick, Director

Ali Epstein, Research Manager


The Education Design Lab Team:


Bill Hughes

Lisa Larson

Joe Davis

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