For many in the millennial generation, the American Dream looks more like a distant concept. To address current economic realities, the new chancellor of the California Community Colleges, himself a product of the Colleges, says the state's higher education systems must equip students with new skills even he didn't have upon graduating.
Although the millennial generation has been said to be the most educated one ever, they are earning 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same age, according to a new analysis from Young Invincibles. This younger cohort also has accumulated less wealth and fewer assets than boomers, using the same comparison.
Among the report's prescriptions is creating more workforce pipelines to middle-skill jobs. These are usually good-paying jobs with many openings. But they require some form of post-secondary education, like certifications and associate degrees, and often go unfilled because of a lack of qualified workers.
California's system of 113 community colleges serving 2.1 million students remains in a position well suited for filling these skills gaps in every region of the state. Recently assuming the chancellorship of the system, Eloy Ortiz Oakley was interviewed by CA Fwd about the economic role of Colleges and how their goals and metrics need to change for the 21st century economy.
“We are the engine of social mobility,” said Oakley. Also in 2014, Governor Brown appointed Oakley to the University of California Board of Regents.
In the video above, Oakley addresses how the new economy will probably require students to change jobs more often than previous generations and how the Colleges will need to adapt to help more students not just graduate, but have in-demand skills.
Oakley, the former Long Beach City College superintendent-president, has also been an instrumental leader in the the California Economic Summit effort, which recently hosted more than 500 attendees in Sacramento for the fifth annual gathering.