A first-of-its-kind report released this week revealed that while the 28 community colleges in the greater Los Angeles / Orange County Basin (“LA Basin”) are developing talent for high-growth occupations, industries and local employers, there are opportunities for greater industry alignment to grow career education programs that provide local residents the skills they need to access well-paying jobs and careers, while improving the ability of businesses to have access to — and participate in the program development that will ensure — a reliable pipeline of qualified talent.
This is the first report produced by the recently launched Center for a Competitive Workforce. It includes an analysis of 20 middle-skill occupations for which community colleges offer degree and/or certificate programs. The occupations are drawn from six regionally-concentrated industries in which the LA Basin has a competitive advantage over other economic regions. Potential shortages were and identified by performing a gap analysis that compared the occupational forecast with the number of community college graduates from programs associated with training required for these occupations.
In the region there will be approximately 67,450 job openings over the next five years for the 20 occupations examined in the report. But, according to the latest data available, from the academic year 2014-15, there were fewer than 27,000 career education award earners in the greater Los Angeles Basin. And only about 7,800 awards were conferred in programs training relevant to the 20 target occupations.
If this trend continues without our region’s talent development systems and institutions responding in kind, especially the community colleges which are the primary suppliers of this middle skill talent, then the demand in the region will not be met over the next five years.
The report, titled L.A. & Orange County Community Colleges: Powering Economic Opportunity, was funded by the Strong Workforce program, an initiative of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office.
“The State invested in California’s community colleges to deliver on the strong workforce needed to fuel regional economies and advance social mobility. Our 200+ career education programs train for occupations in healthcare, cybersecurity, bioscience, transportation, advanced manufacturing, information and computer technology, and more,” said Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor of Workforce & Digital Futures of the California Community Colleges. “The more that employers engage to speak to the skillsets they need, the better our colleges can deliver to what they want.”
“This report offers great information for the colleges and will spur partnerships with local businesses, and I think this report will also help inform students, who ultimately drive demand for programs and classes in the community college system,” said Bill Scroggins, President of Mt. San Antonio College.
“For economic developers, such as the LAEDC, the co-equal goals must be: to help LA Basin’s target industries build more capacity to accommodate more of the excess supply of labor that will be increasingly dislocated by automation, digitization and other innovative technologies; and to ensure that our talent development systems and institutions are configured properly to transition more of our residents into the non-automatable, more highly skilled and high-growth occupations supported by these target industries,” said Dave Flaks, President and COO of LAEDC. “In the face of unprecedented economic change, we need to get this right.”
“This report is filled with valuable data and we hope that post-secondary institutions and businesses utilize this information in meaningful ways. This data can guide decisions on investments necessary to fill existing skills gaps and help build better systems that tightly align workforce development with local business/industry need,” said Gary Toebben, President and CEO, Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We urge community colleges and all of our post-secondary educational institutions to work collaboratively with business to ensure our students become successful employees of the Los Angeles region. The Chamber is proud to be a partner in this endeavor.”
Propel L.A. lends its support
Through the Countywide Strategic Plan for Economic Development, Propel L.A. is spearheading initiatives to link all levels of education to regional industry demand to upskill the workforce. To that end, the collective work with Propel L.A. partners strives to tie workforce development activities to the region’s economic development goals, integrating workplace learning into community college, technical and four-year curricula, and making college courses more relevant and specialized to match industry trends. “At Propel L.A., we applaud this report and the Center’s work, which aligns with conversations we’ve had with more than 75 countywide and regional stakeholders to discuss issues related to early childhood education, K-12, adult education, community colleges, and CSUs,” said Marianne Haver Hill, Executive Director of Propel L.A. “Goals 1 and 2 of the Strategic Plan for Economic Development outline strategies to link all levels of education to regional industry demand to upskill the workforce, and to form partnerships between academic institutions and key industry clusters, which are essential to advancing quality of life for the residents of L.A. County.”
Pulled from LAEDC press release announcement.