Strong Workforce funding addresses immediate need in SoCal trade and logistics

580 200 Ed Coghlan

(Photo Credit: Scott Lederer/Flickr)

A very successful Strong Workforce career technical education program has been expanded in Southern California, where the regional economy benefits from trade and goods moving through it.

The Global Trade and Logistics Regional Consortia, which is part of the $200-million state investment in career technical education, has grown from 7 to 10 community colleges with a total of over 220,000 students. Jobs in wholesale trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing are available—and are expected to be among the big drivers of the Southern California economy for the rest of the decade.

The idea is to transform student experiences and give them real world experience that can prepare them for a workforce that is figuratively screaming for qualified workers. Fifty nine percent of employers believe there’s a lack of qualified workers entering the industry.

“Employers are telling us two important things,” said Rick Hodge CTE Dean at L.A. Southwest College, which manages the program. “They want to have greater interaction with our students in and out of the classroom and they want to have our students prepared with ‘essential skills’ that lead to employment in their demand occupations.”

In the first year of the program, 3,300 students enrolled in 35 different certificate programs. With more colleges joining the programs, that number is expected to increase. To give you a sense of the appetite for job opportunity in this sector, read our coverage on the Global Trade and Logistics Regional Summit held last year in Long Beach.

One student enjoying the program is Genesis Lovo of Santa Ana College who will earn her associates degree in International Business this June.

“Logistics and supply chain really interest me,” Logo said. “The real-world experience I’m getting in the program is already paying off.”

She had an internship at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Irvine where she appreciated how much she had learned. “They were giving me projects that demanded some sophistication because of what I had already learned in the program,” she remembered.

The 23-year old Orange County native is the daughter of parents who were born in El Salvador. Her interest in international business comes partially from the diversity she was exposed to as she grew up. She went to high school with mostly Asian, Indian and Anglo students at Fairmont Prep in Anaheim and “learned a lot about the world.”

She plans to continue her education either at Cal Poly Pomona or the University of Northern Iowa where she attended a four-week seminar on international business.

For Hodge, it is the Genesis Lovos who show how well this program is working. Not only are employers noticing, but so are community colleges in other parts of California.

Two regions, the Bay area and the Far North, are expressing interest in replicating the education-industry model that has been created in Southern California.

“The Strong Workforce Program is making it easier to take innovations to scale that help deliver the needed skilled workforce,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development for the California Community Colleges. “The fact community colleges in other California regions are thinking about replicating the program is a perfect example.”

The industry participation is also increasing with the addition of the Long Beach Port, Clean Tech, and LinkedIn joining employers like Office Depot, UPS and many others.

In addition to L.A. Southwest and Santa Ana Colleges, students at L.A. Harbor, Santa Monica, West L.A., Mt. SAC, Pasadena, Glendale, L.A. Mission Long Beach and Compton community colleges are eligible.

To read the certified $800,000 proposal, click here.                        

To learn more about the rollout of the $200-million Strong Workforce program, click here.


Ed Coghlan

All stories by: Ed Coghlan