VIDEO: Game-changing workforce plan takes big step toward closing skills gap

150 150 Ed Coghlan

(Photo: UC Davis College of Engineering/Flickr)

Talk with practically any California employer and he or she will tell you a big part of their week is spent identifying, hiring and retaining qualified workers.

It’s a statewide challenge—California needs one million workers with middle-skills credentials and one million more graduates with bachelor’s degrees in the next ten years.

The California Economic Summit has from its beginning made boosting the state’s workforce a priority and in the last year has been working with the California Community Colleges Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation and a Strong Economy, an effort to better use the Colleges to close the skills gap.

California Forward (CA Fwd) has been collaborating with the Task Force for the past year as it developed a number of reforms that can help align the state’s training and education programs with what employers need in our fast moving (and fast-changing) economy.

CA Fwd President and CEO Jim Mayer was a member of the Task Force and said in a recent interview he believes its work is potentially transformational in California:

The recommendations made by the Task Force were unanimously approved by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors last month.

“We are very pleased with the final product,” said Cathy Martin of the California Hospital Association, who praised particular reforms that are aimed at speeding up approval for curriculum changes to respond to job market needs.

Nicole Rice of the California Manufacturing and Technology Association also told the Governors that her organization was in support: “These recommendations get to the heart of what is needed.”

The implementation of the reforms is the next critical step.

CA Fwd, through the California Economic Summit, will be working with its regional partners to support what needs to happen in the regions and the individual colleges to make these reforms work.

CA Fwd isn’t going to be alone.

“Count on us to be a partner in the implementation,” Alma Salazar, Vice President, Education & Workforce for the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce  told the Board of Governors.

In its first four years, the California Economic Summit network of business, equity, environmental, and civic organizations has rallied around a strategic vision for sustainable economic growth.

The co-chair of the California Economic Summit Steering Committee, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, is a leader in the effort. Oakley serves as superintendent-president of Long Beach City College and also serves on the UC Board of Regents. He understands that we must meet the challenge facing California and its diverse population:


Ed Coghlan

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