The 2017 California Economic Summit in San Diego this month attracted some of California’s top leaders to discuss their ideas on how to lift millions of California out of poverty and into the middle class.
The Summit is one of the rare times where the three leaders of California higher education gather together to share views about the role higher education plays in developing California’s workforce for our dynamic economy and its constantly evolving needs.
The fact that the three of them were on the same dais, talking about the future drew praise for the Summit. Education Trust-West Executive Director Ryan Smith moderated the discussion and shared his thoughts in the above video, along with California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.
“When we think about income inequality in our country and California, the single tried and true tactic that has worked over time has been access to higher education in terms of increasing social mobility,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “When I remind people that 45 percent of the entering class at University of California are first-generation college students, that’s real opportunity that public higher education presents in California.”
When asked about affordability, the leaders emphasized the widespread use of financial aid to cut tuition and fees, but reminded the total cost of education also includes California's high housing and other expenses.
“Many of our students are food insecure & homeless. The entire ecosystem has to be supported,” said CSU Chancellor Timothy White. “If we don't make this investment, it's a higher cost if we don't succeed.”
According to Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California’s community colleges are looking forward and regionally to create upward mobility and train more skilled workers needed across the state. “We’ve spent a lot of time and fortunately we’ve had the investment over the last several years through the Strong Workforce to take a hard look at the regions of California to really hone in on what the future of jobs within regions is going to look like and begin preparing ourselves to develop curricula for the jobs of today and the future, not the jobs yesterday, which is where we’ve been stuck.”