President Barack Obama delivered his State of the Union address to Americans last night, many of whom were glued to their televisions to hear the President’s plans for the nation. Among several important topics was an idea for tackling one of the Summit’s priority issues: workforce.
“So tonight, I’ve asked Vice President Biden to lead an across-the-board reform of America’s training programs to make sure they have one mission: train Americans with the skills employers need, and match them to good jobs that need to be filled right now,” said Obama. “That means more on-the-job training, and more apprenticeships that set a young worker on an upward trajectory for life. It means connecting companies to community colleges that can help design training to fill their specific needs. And if Congress wants to help, you can concentrate funding on proven programs that connect more ready-to-work Americans with ready-to-be-filled jobs.”
Well, it appears California is ahead of the game on this one. It’s a message that’s been heard loud and clear from regions up and down the state. In fact, Workforce is a signature initiative of the California Economic Summit and has been for the past two years.
“This Administration is rallying shared investment in public –private partnerships in ways that help employers grow jobs but also enable our communities to access those jobs,” states Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Workforce & Economic Development of the California Community Colleges, and co-chair of the Workforce Action Team.
Over the years, the Workforce Action team–a collaboration of business and civic leaders, organizations , educators and California’s Community College system–has been working on aligning programs to fit the needs of industries within the state’s regions.
In fact, the Workforce Action Team has been busy the past few years. Some examples include:
- The California Community Colleges have focused on Doing What MATTERS for Jobs and the Economy in order to target training investments in industry sectors important to regional economies.
- The California Department of Education just released $250M in Career Pathway Trust grants that support public-private partnerships, especially in support of work-based learning for high school and college students.
- 25% of Local Workforce Investment Board funds now go to training, as of 2013. The California Workforce Investment Board established policy direction that facilitate increased partnership between the state’s network of Job Training Centers and their region’s community colleges and Registered Apprenticeship programs.
You can follow the Action Team’s progress here.
During the 2013 Summit, the Action team worked hard to come up with two priorities for 2014. They are:
- Ensure state funds are spent on career-technical education and workforce development to prepare workers for high-demand fields (including STEM), while also advancing a ‘shared investment’ approach.
- Increase state support for regional sector partnerships to prepare workforce for high-demand fields-collaborations that include K-12 systems, community colleges, CSUs, UCs, private education and training institutions, workforce investment boards, community-based organizations, and others.
“The Workforce Action Team’s recommendations reflect how California will work on those same objectives here in our state,” said Ton-Quinlivan.
California is quickly becoming a strong competitor because we all know we’ve got to be smarter about preparing our workforce to enable our regional industry sectors to compete and grow jobs for Californians.