Training gap sapping California economy

150 150 Ed Coghlan

The spotlight is beginning to get turned up on the development of California’s workforce. A theme, that is growing nationally and beginning to be heard in the Presidential campaign, is that the U.S. is not training its workforce in alignment with “where the jobs are.”

In California, Governor Brown has two workforce bills on his desk right now. SB 1402 reauthorizes the California Community Colleges’ Economic and Workforce Development Program, which will help keep the community colleges playing a vital role in workforce training. 

The second, SB 1070, establishes the Career Technical Education Pathways Program which improves linkages and career technical education pathways between high schools and community colleges to accomplish specified objectives.

Van Ton-Quinlivan, a Vice Chancellor at the California Community Colleges specializing in workforce development, hopes the Governor will sign the bills.

“Community colleges deliver the workforce that our regions and employers need to support businesses in our state’s pursuit of advanced manufacturing, in our community’s ability to deliver quality healthcare, and in helping our small businesses expand thru knowledge of how to access to capital,” she said.

We first met Ton-Quinlivan at the first California Economic Summit where she was pressing the case for the community colleges as a major workforce development player. People were paying attention. Noted author and NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, who writes extensively on the world’s economy, was a keynote speaker at the Summit in Santa Clara. His most recent article quotes Ton-Quinlivan on workforce preparation issues. It is worth a read if you haven’t seen it.

A report out from Deloitte on Monday reinforces the growing focus on workforce development. It stresses the need for reframing immigration, revising some employment regulations and encouraging lifelong learning emphasis since the shelf life of skills one learns in school or on the job is increasingly shrinking. 

An even stronger statement came from the Society of Manufacturing Engineers who is meeting in Chicago this week. They say 600,000 manufacturing jobs are unfilled and more recruitment and better training of people in manufacturing will help both industry and those trying to find jobs. 

Improving California’s workforce development is one of seven signature initiatives that were recommended by the California Economic Summit in May. Work on each of these initiatives continues, which include infrastructure development, access to capital and CEQA reform among them.


Ed Coghlan

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