By Ed Coghlan.
Community Colleges in Los Angeles and Orange County were challenged Tuesday to up their game in workforce preparation for the region.
A new report produced by the recently launched Center for a Competitive Workforce indicates that if current trends continue, 42 percent of the workforce demand in the region will not be met over the next five years. Also — importantly — the report notes too many new jobs being created low wage and low skill.
The report analyzes 20 middle-skill occupations for which the 28 community colleges in L.A. and Orange Counties offer degree and certificate programs. The occupations are employed by six key industries with a competitive advantage in the greater Los Angeles region.
There will be approximately 67,450 job openings in the region over the next five years for the 20 occupations examined in the report. But, according to the latest data available, from the academic year 2014-15, there were fewer than 27,000 career education award earners in the greater Los Angeles Basin. And only about 7,800 awards were conferred in programs training for the 20 target occupations.
Nine of those 28 community colleges are in the Los Angeles Community College District, the largest district in California.
“This report is a roadmap for how we in the Los Angles Community Colleges can best prepare our students for the jobs of the 21st century in Los Angeles and Southern California,” said Sydney Kamlager, president of the LACCD Board of Trustees. “Each one of our colleges will use this report to accelerate the development of career education offerings that provide our students the skills they need to access the well-paying jobs and careers available in our region.”
The report stresses while the region’s colleges are developing talent for high-growth occupations, industries and local employers, there are opportunities for greater industry alignment to grow career education programs that provide local residents the skills they need to access well-paying jobs and careers, while improving the ability of businesses to have access to and support a reliable pipeline of qualified talent.
“The call to action remains strong for every region’s employers to work with their community colleges,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, California Community College vice chancellor for workforce and economic development.
“To create a qualified and diverse talent pool, we need employers to help by informing our curriculum, providing student internships, and/or hire graduates,” she added. “Since no one college can do it all, regional scale solutions are needed that brings multiple colleges with multiple employers together to seed career education that students want and that employers hire from.”
The report pinpointed select target industries and middle skills occupations that will drive the regional economy.
The region’s huge, diverse economy includes significant export clusters such as aerospace and defense, entertainment, information technology and biopharmaceutical and medical devices to name a few. The region also boasts a deep reservoir of educational institutions.
But there are impediments as well. The region is getting older, the talent gap that exists in some sectors, and the high cost of housing are holding back economic development.
For the California Economic Summit, this report is important news. The Summit for the past several years has been amplifying the message from all of California’s diverse regions that the workforce preparation issue is a critical one for all of California to address.
“The California Economic Summit has worked hard to increase the quantity and quality of career education pathways,” said Jim Mayer, California Forward president and CEO. “This report will help community colleges better align their courses so students are prepared for the future in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.”
The Summit’s annual statewide gathering will convene in San Diego on November 2-3. To get more information and register, click here.
The Center’s report, titled: L.A. and Orange County Community Colleges-Powering Economic Opportunity, was funded by the Strong Workforce Program, an initiative of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.