Community colleges remain at the forefront of improving access to adult education and training opportunities, as well as maintaining a skilled regional workforce. In light of today’s economic realities, they face new calls to shorten the time to completion, infuse remedial education with skills training, and provide flexibility for students to balance work and school, while building long-term employability. Meeting these evolving needs will require community colleges and the State of Illinois to re-evaluate the current model for static district boundaries. Increasingly, these institutions must work together to share data, develop programming, prioritize uses of limited funding resources, and rationalize or coordinate specific educational programs across multiple districts. Such efforts are critical to pursuing other ON TO 2050 strategies, such as continuing to develop career pathways and adapting curricula to changing skills demand. Employers frequently cite inconsistency and fragmentation among community colleges as a barrier to effective partnerships.{{Illinois Community College Board and Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, ICCB Workforce Education Strategic Planning Project: Report on the Regional Forums, 2015, }}

Community colleges have already taken steps to increase enrollment in career training across district boundaries. In response to limited public funding, all 39 community college districts in Illinois signed on to participate in the Comprehensive Agreement Regarding the Expansion of Educational Resources (CAREER Agreement). The agreement allows students to enroll in career and technical education programs offered at any other Illinois community college if their home district does not offer the program, while paying in-district resident tuition and fee rates. This cooperation is a prime example of strategies that improve the community college system’s efficiency and responsiveness to shifting education and employment trends, while reducing unnecessary duplication.