Reaching for the stars

By AACC 21st Century Center Staff

The Strong Workforce Stars program recognizes career education programs at California community colleges that advance social and economic mobility.

California has started a new program to recognize career education programs at the state’s community colleges. Strong Workforce Stars celebrates programs in which students show significant gains in factors important for advancing social mobility – earnings increase, attainment of a living wage and a job closely matched with the field of study.

More than 100 career education programs delivered by 65 institutions in the California Community Colleges system have earned a spot among the ranks of Strong Workforce Stars. The recognition is based on students who were last enrolled in 2013-14 in career education areas including advanced manufacturing; agriculture, water, and environmental technologies; energy, construction, and utilities; health care; information and communication technologies/digital media; life sciences and biotechnology; retail, hospitality, and tourism; and small business.

“Strong Workforce Stars, with its focus on proving student success through data, is another demonstration of how the California Community Colleges is carefully and intentionally building a strong workforce for California and improving social and economic mobility,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a release.

The recognized programs had to meet at least one of three thresholds: Student earnings increased by 50 percent or more; 70 percent or more of students in the training program attained a regional living wage; and/or 90 percent or more of students report that their current job is closely related to their field of study.

The Strong Workforce Stars programs typically had common factors: they used data-driven planning, had outstanding faculty, were career and industry driven, student-centered and used intersegmental partnerships.

Among the recognized programs were three from Cuyamaca College. The water and wastewater technology and environmental health and safety programs were commended because virtually every student participating has found a job in their field of study.  They also are boosting their earnings by 77 percent, according to data collected by the California Community Colleges. The college’s ornamental horticulture program was commended because 76 percent of participating students working in the profession are earning the regional living wage.

Mt. San Antonio College’s veterinary technician and histotechnician programs also were included among the Strong Workforce Stars.

The popular veterinary technician program graduates between 25 and 45 students a year, and 88 percent of those students pass the licensing exam, according to Matthew Judd, natural sciences dean. And 100 percent of students in the college’s histotechnician program find employment in their field of study. The program trains students in the life science/biotech field to work in labs, preparing tissues for examination through staining and slide creation.

A full list of Strong Workforce Stars is available here.

AACC 21st Century Center Staff

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.