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Reedley College, San Joaquin Delta College, West Hills Coalinga
July 24, 2017
Paige Marlatt Dorr
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Standouts in career education earn accolades as California’s community colleges advance social and economic mobility Strong Workforce Stars, a new recognition program based on quantified student outcomes,
recognizes more than 100 community college programs at 65 colleges
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – More than 100 career education programs delivered by 65 institutions in the California Community Colleges system have earned a spot among the ranks of Strong Workforce Stars for their successes in helping students increase their earning power and social mobility.
Strong Workforce Stars is a new, annual commendation for career education programs, also known as career technical education (CTE), within California’s 114 community colleges whose students show significant gains in factors important for advancing social mobility – a substantial increase in earnings, attainment of a living wage, and/or employment in a job closely matched with the student’s field of study.
“Strong Workforce Stars, with its focus on proving student success through data, is another demonstration of how the California Community Colleges is carefully and intentionally building a strong workforce for California and improving social and economic mobility” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.
Career education programs can receive Strong Workforce Stars designation when meeting one or more of the following numerical thresholds:
- Fifty percent or more increase in student earnings, determined by comparing students’ earnings one year before and one year after exiting the California Community Colleges system. This data is based on a match to the state’s wage file.
- Seventy percent or more of students attain a regional living wage. This percentage, aligned with a threshold set by the California Workforce Development Board, analyzes the proportion of graduates and skills builders (defined as students whose goal is not to complete a program, but to take classes to increase job skills) who attained the living wage for a single individual in the college’s region. This analysis is based on a match to the state’s wage file and a comparison with data from the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
- Ninety percent or more of students report that their current job is close or very close to their field of study. This is based on responses to the system’s CTE Outcomes Survey, which is sent to community college students after they stop taking courses. Programs can earn more than one Strong Workforce Star, depending on outcomes.
“Career education programs create skilled workers to fuel regional economies and enable social mobility,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development at California Community Colleges. “These ‘Star’ exemplars ought to be celebrated.”
The recognition is based on students who were last enrolled in 2013-14 in career education areas including advanced manufacturing; advanced transportation and renewable energy; agriculture, water, and environmental technologies; education and human development; energy, construction, and utilities; global trade and logistics; health care; information and communication technologies/digital media; life sciences and biotechnology; public and protective services; retail, hospitality, and tourism; and small business.
Analysis undertaken by WestEd reveals six commonalities of career education programs that met the Strong Workforce Stars designation:
Data-driven planning: Colleges continuously use data and evidence to direct the development and delivery of their offerings. They also employ labor-market analysis to ensure programs are the optimum size, whether it be limiting enrollment to avoid flooding the local market or expanding participation to address an urgent workforce need.
Outstanding faculty: By working in the industry while teaching, staying connected through industry sector-based associations and participating in professional networks, faculty help to improve students’ employment outcomes.
Career driven: Colleges make a direct connection between program participation and related career opportunities, which can serve as a powerful motivator for students to both enroll in and complete their programs, as well as contribute to their success in the workplace.
Industry driven: Industry sector partners play a critical role in shaping and delivering college programming, often through robust and comprehensive advisory groups.
Student centered: Colleges integrate academic supports and focused educational advising in order to respond to the priorities, experiences, and needs of the students who enroll, whether they are recent high school graduates, working adults, veterans, English-language learners, ex-offenders or students who aspire to transfer to four-year institutions.
Intersegmental partnerships: Through strategies like dual enrollment, the adoption of national curriculum models, articulation agreements and summer bridge programs, colleges jump-start students’ career preparation while they still are enrolled in high school and accelerate workplace entry.
Strong Workforce Stars is made possible by accountability and data tool investments established under the system’s Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and Economy framework and its Strong Workforce Program. Starting 2016, the state of California infused a recurring annual investment of $200 million to spur more and better career education across the 114 community colleges of California - the nation’s largest higher education system. In the second year of the program, one-sixth of the dollars must be allocated based on contribution to student success outcomes rather than the traditional approach of student enrollment, and Strong Workforce Stars is one way to ascertain progress toward that policy goal.
The Strong Workforce Program is a bold step California took to create 1 million more middle-skilled workers to fuel regional economies and advance social mobility, equipping them with certificates, degrees or credentials valued by the labor market.
Strong Workforce metrics are aligned with those of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, a federal program designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services.
The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 114 colleges serving 2.1 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training and basic skills education in English and math, and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions. The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges. For more information about the community colleges, please visit californiacommunitycolleges.cccco.edu/, https://www.facebook.com/CACommColleges, or twitter.com/CalCommColleges. The Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy framework invests in California’s economic growth and global competitiveness through industry-specific partnerships, education, training and services that contribute to a strong workforce for California.