Gold Stars awarded to CA Community Colleges in annual Strong Workforce commendations

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Antelope Valley College's Aircraft Fabrication and Assembly Technician program earned a Gold Star as part of the Strong Workforce Program's 2018 Workforce Stars program (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

The California Community Colleges have announced the recognition of more than 1,000 career education programs that are resulting in students gaining social mobility based on factors important to their future success.

The Strong Workforce Stars program is an annual recognition and celebration for career education programs, also known as career technical education.

Every California community college career education certificate or degree was analyzed to identify programs in which graduates met one or more thresholds related to economic mobility:

  • An increase in earnings by 50 percent or more
  • Attainment of the regional living wage by 70 percent or more
  • 90 percent or more were employed in a job similar to their field of study

One hundred and fourteen programs earned gold stars — meaning they met all three of the factors. In addition, more than 1,200 other programs achieved recognition in at least one of the factors. 

“We believe in objective measures as a way to communicate the quality of these career education programs to students, families and employers,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, California Community Colleges executive vice chancellor. “Look soon for our free career exploration mobile app — Here to Career — to show which programs of study have Strong Workforce Star designation.”

See all of the 2018 Strong Workforce Star winners

To determine the winners, data on student earnings and career outcomes were analyzed. During 2015-16, 174,911 career education students exited the California community college system and did not enroll in another two-year or four-year college the following year. Of these students, 71 percent could be matched to the state wage file to determine how many students improved their earnings and attained the regional living wage. In addition, responses to the Career and Technical Education Outcomes Survey help to document whether students who exited in 2014-15 got a job similar to their field of study.

Strong Workforce Stars is an output of the Strong Workforce Program, an annual recurring investment of $200 million to spur career education in California Community Colleges.

The California Economic Summit, an early supporter of the Strong Workforce Program, continues to work on the need to train an additional one million middle skills workers in California for the better paying jobs that are or will be available.

The Summit's goal to help elevate the millions of Californians who live in or near poverty into the middle class demands that the workforce and education systems achieve the following:

1. Help students complete as fast as they can and at the lowest possible costs

2. Help students master skills and connect them to jobs and careers in their field of study

3. Develop partnerships with employers to align skills, talent, jobs and economic prosperity

“These successful programs are student centered and industry driven and model successful outcomes which can be replicated across California,” said Leah Grassini Moehle, workforce program manager for the Summit. “Congratulations to the all those who have earned this important recognition.”

Not surprisingly, the state's large healthcare sector was reflected in many of the Gold Star Programs. In addition to the registered nursing programs, other health programs include dental, paramedic, physical therapy, psychiatric technicians, radiologic technology and respiratory therapy.

Registration has opened for the California Economic Summit, which will be held in Santa Rosa November 15-16. To register, click here.


John Guenther

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