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* Strong Workforce Program Partnership

In 2016, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) asked Valley Vision to convene regional employers to discuss the Strong Workforce Program (SWP), a new statewide workforce initiative of $200 million signed by Governor Jerry Brown. SWP aims to boost the number of skilled workers produced by California Community Colleges.

Employers conveyed their strong desire to take part in these important conversations and to contribute industry feedback that assures SWP investments address employer needs and create an employable, highly skilled workforce. Valley Vision’s Next Economy Workforce project provided a substantial body of knowledge in regard to employers’ needs, workforce skills gaps and action plans needed to support high-performing business clusters and employers' top needs. Valley Vision’s relationships with employers, industry associations, education institutions, workforce development boards, and other workforce system partners positions us as the logical coordinating partner for the Northern California Community Colleges. 

What is the goal?

The goal is to assist the Sacramento Capital Region’s Community Colleges with increasing employer engagement, and to provide employers a direct line of feedback to the colleges, especially as it pertains to how SWP funds will be utilized. SWP funds can only be allocated to enhance existing Career Technical Education (CTE) programs or to create new CTE programs that address workforce skills gaps. The improvement or creation of new curriculum will be vetted by employers to assure employment needs and workforce skills gaps are being addressed and that the community colleges can create a hirable skilled workforce. 

Why is this important?

A region offering an educated and skilled workforce that meets demands of regional economies will benefit the labor market at state, regional and local levels. It will also benefit students and provide households with alternative career pathway options. Many middle skilled jobs actually go unfilled today, resulting in a huge missed economic opportunity for our region. The SWP will create the needed career pathways offering a way out of poverty, creating regional economic vitality, and recruiting and retaining employers. 

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

Valley Vision is leveraging relationships with private-public stakeholders for cross sector collaborations, employer engagement and regional partnerships to make certain that the improved and new CTE programs meet the supply and demand of the labor market. Valley Vision will facilitate alignment and collaboration across employers, community colleges, four-year institutions, workforce development boards, and other workforce system partners. 

What is our desired impact?

To help the region's community college system develop a clear and defined career pathway that leads to jobs or technical degree programs at four-year universities; create a skilled and competitive workforce for the Sacramento Capital Region; generate a pathway out of poverty through CTE programs; and support employers by providing them with skilled workers they need.  

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

Economy: Aligning employer needs and workforce skills gaps with educational and training institutions will allow for a skilled and employable future workforce. Today, there is a notion of “Bachelor’s Degree or Bust,” which has proven to be a failed strategy. California Community College is approaching a new career pathway that focuses on career technical education options at the post-secondary level, allowing students to obtain a certificate/associate’s degree with technical skills and on-the-job experiences. 

Environment: Many of the CTE programs are applicable for environmental careers and have overlapping skills that crosswalk the Clean Economy cluster. Colleges are also expanding and creating new CTE programs that have an environmental focus, such as Solar Energy Technology and Diesel Technology/ Electric Car Technology. As California expands environmental causes and new clean legislations are passed, we will see a growing demand for technical skills in the clean sector.

Equity: Career Technical Education programs allow for social mobility and provide students with an alternative to the four-year college route. Career and technical education programs generate graduates with academic credentials, technical credentials, and work experience that often lead to well-paying jobs and careers with upward mobility. 

When?

Valley Vision, Los Rios Community College District and other community college partners began convening local employers in December 2016 through January 2017 to share input on the first round of SWP funding. We will continue to convene representatives from labor, economic development, businesses and other workforce system partners to increase student success, build career pathways, enhance data, strengthen CTE curriculum, address employer needs and supplying employers with skilled hirable workforce, and improve regional coordination.  

The second round of funding will be released in July 2017. The third round of funding will be released in July 2018. Valley Vision will continue engaging employers throughout 2017-2018.