California workforce training wins big with fed funding

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

(photo credit: Michael Banks)

It’s that time again—the time of month where the U.S. Bureau of Labor releases unemployment rates for each state.

Are you ready? The envelop please.

California’s unemployment rate for August was 8.9 percent. Before you react with applause or jeers, you must know, despite adding more than 29,000 jobs and posting one of the largest jobs gains in the nation, the Golden State’s unemployment grew slightly from 8.7 percent the month before.

Now you can react.

Heading into the weekend, it’s probably not the feel good kind of news you were hoping for, but I’m not done yet. Things do get brighter from here on out.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports the construction sector led the job growth in August, in the state. The professional and business services sector, which includes lawyers and architects, didn’t do too shabby either.

This means, supported by last week’s Anderson School forecast, the economic recovery is split along classes of skills. The state is seeing high-tech workers and other skilled economic workers making the most job gains and the hospitality and leisure sector is producing significant new jobs.

Trying to even out that recovery and fill the skills gap are California’s Community Colleges, which have been working to ensure the workforce of today is prepared for jobs that are available now.

In fact, 13 community colleges, some a part of consortiums, recently received federal grant money to expand on demand-driven skills training and to strengthen employer partnerships.

“I’m pleased that our community colleges have earned even more grant money this year because that means the federal government sees the value in our workforce training programs and so too do our partners in industry,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor of the California Community Colleges Workforce and Economic Development division. “The funds will go to developing critical training programs that will quickly qualify our students to get good-paying jobs in high-demand fields such as health care information technology, aerospace technology and advanced manufacturing.

The grants are part of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training grant program from the U.S. Department of Labor.

“Community colleges play a vital role in training Americans to meet the needs of employers today,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “As our economy continues to rebuild, businesses are looking for employees with skills their company needs to stay competitive, and America’s students and adult workers want to be equipped to fill those roles. These grants help to meet those demands, providing critical investments in education and supporting key partnerships.”

The Los Angeles Trade-Technical College Consortium, which includes all nine colleges in the Los Angeles Community College District, was awarded nearly $20 million, with each school receiving federal money. The focus on the programs will be on health sciences and healthcare information technology.

Long Beach City College received two grants totaling $4.5 million. The grants will focus on alternative pathways to engineering education and careers, along with supply chain management.

“The announcement by the Department of Labor is a huge success for Long Beach City College, our students and the community we serve,” said Eloy O. Oakley, superintendent-president of Long Beach City College. “We are elated to have been selected as a recipient and eagerly await the award to begin the process of implementing new STEM and technical oriented programs that will lead students into fulfilling careers.”

“We now can build upon proven models of training with enhanced curricula designed with the input of industry employers,” said Lou Anne Bynum, Executive Vice President at Long Beach City College. “This joint collaboration and proposal is in direct response to the re-education needs of displaced, TAA-eligible workers, veterans, students and unemployed and under employed individuals and responds specifically to the training needs of industry partners seeking employees with associate degrees in engineering technology and electrical technology.”

MiraCosta Community College District’s Advanced Manufacturing program got a huge boost with more than $2.7 million in federal money.

A new healthcare career readiness and training program at Saddleback College is now possible thanks to $2.75 million in grant money. The college will launch Orange County Health Care Career Transitions-Fast Track to Success, a program to help Saddleback students, unemployed workers, and displaced workers affected by foreign trade for high-demand allied health careers.

“This grant funding will provide the college an extraordinary opportunity for our students to prepare for meaningful jobs in the healthcare sector,” said Dr. Tod Burnett, president of Saddleback College. “Participation in the Fast Track to Success program will eventually lead students to lucrative career opportunities while simultaneously creating partnerships in our local community.”

Dr. Donna Rane-Szostak, dean of health sciences and human services, stated, “This exciting and innovative health career training project will have a three-pronged approach: to enhance existing Saddleback College allied health programs to create clearer pathways to high-skill and high-wage healthcare careers; broaden the skills of many already working in the healthcare field; and develop innovative programs to train new healthcare workers for roles that are emerging as a result of the federal Affordable Care Act.”

These kinds of career pathway projects are just one prescription for make sure California’s recovery is robust and applies to more people looking for good-paying, middle-class jobs. The California Economic Summit has made workforce training and CTE programs a top priority and recruited many Californians to work on the Summit’s Workforce Action Team. And that’s some good news no matter who you are. 


Cheryl Getuiza

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