CA Fwd Makes the Case to Legislators for Funding of Workforce Training

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California Forward (CA Fwd) and the California Economic Summit are encouraging state legislators to continue funding of the California Community Colleges’ Strong Workforce Program and Calbright College, the new statewide online community college.

In a letter to the chairs of the Senate and Assembly subcommittees on education, CA Fwd CEO Micah Weinberg shares that we “have prioritized workforce development as a key lever for reducing poverty and fortifying economic vitality.”

CA Fwd and its partners in the California Economic Summit have long supported expanded regional workforce resources for the Community Colleges and endorsed reforms to make sure the funding was doing what was intended — developing a workforce aligned with the needs of the regional economy.

“We thank California Forward and the Economic Summit for the continued support of our workforce efforts,” said Eloy Ortiz Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges. “We have over two million students who are trying to change their lives. We simply can’t turn our back on them now.”

The COVID-19 public health emergency has essentially shut down the California economy for over two months and its impact on the state budget is severe. As the state looks to reduce spending, CA Fwd urges legislators not to reduce spending on the workforce investment that has become even more important to the recovery and future economy of the state.

To lift more low-wage workers into living-wage jobs and develop a robust workforce pipeline, California took a bold step in 2016 to fill the need for more than a million middle-skill workers. At the recommendation of the California Community College Board of Governors, the Governor and Legislature approved the Strong Workforce Program, adding a new annual recurring investment of $248 million to spur career technical education (CTE) in the nation’s largest workforce development system of 115 colleges.

“The Strong Workforce Program has improved the state’s infrastructure for training workers for the 21st century economy in California,” said Weinberg. “This is certainly not the time to dismantle this important infrastructure.”

The Calbright online community college was designed to increase access to more than 2.5 million under-skilled Californians who were not being served by community colleges. Many of those are working Californians who don’t have the time to attend an institution but can learn on their own time at their own speed.

“There certainly have been missteps in the launch of Calbright College, but we must give this idea the time and resources to achieve its promise,” added Weinberg. “There are millions of Californians who need to be lifted into the middle class and the potential of this initiative is compelling.”

The 2020 California Economic Summit takes place on December 3-4, marking the ninth annual event bringing together private, public and civic leaders from across California’s diverse regions. The Summit’s bipartisan network of business, equity, environmental and civic organizations is unique in championing solutions that create inclusive, sustainable growth and opportunity for all.

To read the letter sent to Senator Richard Roth and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty, click here.


Ed Coghlan

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