California is investing $200 million annually in the Strong Workforce Program to help fill the growing demand for “middle-skill” positions that require more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a 4-year college degree. Career Education provides a pathway to high-paying, in-demand middle-skill jobs that deliver solid career opportunities.
What is the goal?
The goal of the Strong Workforce Program is to provide more CE opportunities with better outcomes for students and better labor market success. Improving access, completion, and employment success for all students is an important equity goal for the program.
Valley Vision’s Strong Workforce project goals are to obtain quality information on workforce and training needs from employers; identify potential training and skills gaps; align CE programs to regional labor market needs; improve the exchange of information between local community colleges and employers; and to improve the efficiency of the CE advisory process.
Why is this important?
One million more associate degrees, certificates, or industry-valued credentials will be needed by 2025 to meet projected demand. In the 1970s, 28% of jobs required more than a high school diploma. By 1992, the percentage of jobs requiring more than a high school diploma had grown to 56, and by 2020, 65% of jobs are projected to require some form of post-secondary education and/or training.
Connecting the needs of students, educators and employers are critical to building a strong regional workforce and a competitive economy, while providing opportunity for workers to gain skills and income mobility.
How does this improve people’s lives?
The notion of “Bachelor’s Degree or Bust,” is outdated. Moreover, obtaining just any 4-year degree is providing little value for some, and is busting the budget for others. CE programs provide many pathways to solid career opportunities in well-paying, in-demand middle-skill jobs. Affordable and accessible CE programs offer an opportunity to improve skills and a pathway out of poverty, allowing for social mobility and providing students with an alternative to the four-year college route.
What is Valley Vision’s role?
In partnership with the Los Rios Community College District—and in collaboration with Sierra College and the Yuba Community College District—Valley Vision has been engaged to convene Regional Advisory Board meetings for Career Education (CE) across several priority industry sectors in 2018 and 2019:
- Ag, Natural Resources & Environmental Technologies
- Energy, Construction & Utilities
- Health Services & Life Sciences
- Information & Communications Technologies
- Hospitality, Tourism, and Recreation
- Earlier convenings in 2017-2018 included the following sectors:
Valley Vision is facilitating alignment and collaboration across employers, community colleges, four-year institutions, workforce development boards, and other workforce system partners. The purpose is to provide timely information from employers on workforce needs; improve the efficiency of the CE advisory process for educators and employers; and to broaden opportunities for more systemic engagement across the region.
What is our desired impact?
To help the region’s community college system develop a clear and defined career pathway program 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 CE programs; and support employers by providing them with the skilled workers they need.
Valley Vision began working with Los Rios Community College District and other community college partners in December 2016 and will continue engaging employers through 2020.