GOAL: To restore upward mobility and meet employers’ needs, California needs one million more graduates with bachelor’s degrees and one million more workers with middle-skilled credentials over the next 10 years.

BACKGROUND: With wages stagnating and income inequality rising—and millions of Californians struggling to make ends meet in low-wage jobs—industries from health care to manufacturing still can’t find the skilled workers they need.

In the 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity, the California Economic Summit outlined a plan for improving this workforce pipeline and closing this looming “skills gap.”


Tracking Progress

Summit Accomplishments 2012-15

Action Plan for 2016


For three years, the Summit has supported investments in career technical education--and better alignment between workforce training programs and employers. As a member of the 2015 California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Task Force, the Summit ensured these ideas were included in the group's final recommendations.

To ensure the Task Force's recommendations result in more young people getting the skills they need, the Summit pledged to support the formation of regional civic organizations dedicated to accelerating implementation of the Task Force proposals--including strategies that prepare more Californians for careers above minimum wage. These organizations will have three functions:

  1. Align public and private partners on goals, strategies, and metrics to help young Californians be prepared for meaningful careers.

  2. Encourage coordination and effectiveness--and create accountability for results--to meet the needs of students and employers.

  3. Develop and advocate for incentives that drive improvements in programs and improve job placements.

June 2016: The governor signed a final budget for 2016-17 that includes all three of the Summit's top goals for the year--a new $200 million Strong Workforce Program, an ongoing $48 million investment in the Career Technical Education Pathways Program, and $50 million for the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education.

Summer 2016: The Summit worked closely with the Community Colleges Chancellor's Office and shared testimony with the budget conference committee urging the Legislature to ensure the maximum amount of funds available in the proposed $200 million Strong Workforce Program were distributed to regional consortia of community colleges, civic groups, and business leaders for allocation to individual colleges. The Summit argued that this would maximize regional collaboration, increase efficiency in spending, and improve connections to labor market needs. The REAL Coalition joined the Summit in support of this approach.

April 2016: In legislative testimony, the Summit partnered with several business groups, including the California Hospitals Association, to push for regional allocation of the Strong Workforce Program funds. Leaders of the Workforce and Advancing Manufacturing teams also shared detailed amendments to budgetary trailer bill language with the Department of Finance.

March 2016: The Summit shared a letter signed by members of the Workforce and Advancing Manufacturing Teams with the Senate and Assembly budget subcommittees outlining specific legislation consistent with the Roadmap. The Summit offered its support for three budget proposals--a $200 million investment in a new Strong Workforce Program, a $48 million commitment to the Career Technical Education Pathways Program, and a $25 million investment in the Awards for Innovation in Higher Education--as well as several bills that would direct more financial aid to career tech ed students (AB 1892, Medina) and improve how schools measure student employment outcomes (SB 66, Leyva).

January 2016: The governor in his proposed budget outlined plans to spend more than $270 million on improving the performance of California's workforce training programs, echoing the ideas outlined in the Summit's 2016 Roadmap to Shared Prosperity for strengthening regional workforce pipelines and better connecting training programs with the needs of employers.