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New research shows that students who earn health care certifications at California’s community colleges make significantly more money as they fill labor gaps for health care organizations across the state.
This win-win outcome was presented by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) in two new reports, Career Technical Education in Health and Health Training Pathways at California’s Community Colleges, this week in Sacramento. A panel discussed the contributions of California’s community colleges in recruiting, training, and teaching a diverse population as they pursue health training pathways and upward economic mobility.
The reports are meant to dig into the benefits – in economic terms – for students and the community colleges that provide training. The research shows that, “health CTE credentials afford sizeable returns to students in California, who earn 50 percent more, on average, after they complete their schooling.”
PPIC researcher Shannon McConville, detailed the pathways successful students travel as they complete health Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in the California community college system and the employment outcomes for both students who complete a program and those who do not.
Though socioeconomic factors don’t alter the outcomes for students, the type of CTE does. Of the three types of certificates – short-term, long-term and associate degrees – greater gains are seen with greater achievement. Those completing associate degrees earn double the return of those who finish long-term CTE programs and 10 times greater returns than those with short-term certificates. Additional differences are attributed to program type. For example, a Paramedic short-term certificate provides greater gains than a Medical Assistant CTE course.
Panelists Anette Smith-Dohring, manager for workforce development at Sutter Health, Linda Zorn, statewide sector navigator of the California Communities Colleges Health Workforce Initiative, and Linda Collins, executive director of the Career Ladders Project, discussed the economic opportunity of the programs and the very real human issues that confront students who enroll at community colleges.
Smith-Dohring said community colleges are the primary providers of the health care workers hired by Sutter Health and lauded the system for offering training in so many geographic areas because it helps locals with economic mobility while providing patients with health care providers who share their community.
Listening to employers is one way Zorn and her team seek to meet the statewide needs for health care workers. It’s that inquiry that led to some stackable credential designs that train students to fill specialty needs areas like imaging, without having to earn an associate degree.
These reports and the open conversation at the event provide valuable information for state policy makers as they continue to focus on improving economic mobility and filling workforce gaps. Career technical education for health care workers equips students for jobs that often pay quite well. In addition demand for skilled workers continues to grow, due in part to an aging population. More than 40 health CTE programs are available across California’s 113 community colleges.
Funding for these programs comes from a number of sources. Since 2014, the California Career Pathways Trust (CCPT) has dedicated more than $500 million to school districts, county offices of education, community college districts, and other partners supporting efforts to design and implement well-defined career pathways for CTE programs. California’s most recent budget also directed an additional $200 million to the Strong Workforce Program, which aims to increase the availability of high-quality, in-demand CTE courses at the community colleges.
“The health care sector is an important employer in all regions of our state,” said Van Ton Quinlivan, the vice chancellor for workforce for the California Community Colleges. “Making sure that the pipeline of trained and certified employees is of critical importance. The community colleges, through the Strong Workforce Program, are making sure that the courses and programs we offer are aligned with the needs of health care employers.”
“The health care sector is an important employer in all regions of our state. Making sure that the pipeline of trained and certified employees is of critical importance, “said Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development California Community Colleges. “The Community Colleges, through the Strong Workforce Program, are making sure that the courses and programs we offer are aligned with the needs of health care employers.”
The Strong Workforce Program and more workforce efforts to close the skills gap will be discussed at the upcoming 2016 California Economic Summit to be held in Sacramento December 13-14. Registration information and the agenda can be found here.