California Community Colleges releases annual Economic and Workforce Development report

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On Wednesday, the California Community Colleges (CCC) Chancellor’s Office released its annual report on the 2015-16 Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) program.

Created as part of the Economic and Workforce Development Division, the EWD program is designed to combine local colleges, industry partners and other stakeholders to create opportunities for Californians.

“Specifically, it invests in the development, execution and distribution of world-class skills training to Californians seeking to be work-ready employees in the California businesses that need them to thrive,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said in a press release.

The program acts as an incubator of educational and workforce innovation to increase California’s economic growth and competitiveness and fulfill the requirements of SB 1402, the law authorizing the program and its grants.

In the South Central Coast region (Region D), which includes College of the Canyons (COC), seven grants worth approximately $2.23 million were distributed throughout the area.

College of the Canyons

In total for the 2015-16 year, COC’s Economic Development Division received $3.1 million in grant revenue from sources throughout the state, according to Eric Harnish, COC’s vice president of public information, advocacy and external relations.

This included $900,000 in grants from the CCC Chancellor’s Office for the college’s three Deputy Navigator Sectors in the sectors of Advanced Manufacturing, Health and Information and Communication Technology/Digital Media.

“With that some of the milestones for the college are the division trained more than 3,100 employees at 935 companies in 2015-16,” Harnish said.

In addition, the college counseled 878 entrepreneurs, participated in 53 business startups, helped clients create 464 jobs and help clients generate $31.7 million in new capital.

Jeff Forrest, COC’s vice president of Economic Workforce Development, said the EWD program has allowed the college to fund education and on-the-job experience and help workers upgrade their skills and meet the needs of their employers.

“It [EWD] has allowed us to provide positive opportunities to companies to meet their needs through apprenticeships and training programs,” Forrest said.  “The funding has helped expand training and allowed companies to upgrade their workforce.”

Forrest noted that a majority of those involved in COC’s program are adult learners returning to school to update their technology literacy skills, which influences the type of work that takes place from warehouses to hospitals.

“The economy displaced them and then they found them coming to the community college to get those skills in the accelerated format,” he said.  “At the college we’re creating what I like to call ‘micro-skills training opportunities’ for adult learners to elevate their skills and then go right back into the workforce.”

For example, the college conducted a six-week course to train students on how to operate and navigate QuickBooks, an online accounting software, before they apply for jobs.

“We had 100 percent placement of the two cohorts we’ve had through our Small Business Development Center,” Forrest said.

In addition to the Small Business Development Center, COC’s Economic Development Division also offers multiple servers through its Employee Training Institute, the Center for Applied Competitive Technologies and the Americas Job Center of California, among others.

“We’ve created a wide range of services that are available to benefit local companies all the way from startups to some of the valley’s largest employers,” Harnish said.

Statewide program

The Economic and Workforce Development  program focuses on seven of the state’s macroeconomic regions and supports 10 targeted sectors and industries that were chosen based on “current and emerging labor market needs and opportunities.”

The mission is completed through a framework called Doing What Matters for Jobs and the Economy, which allows colleges to collaborate when preparing students for the workforce and to partner with employers and stakeholders.

According to the annual report, 61,056 students, 19,624 employees and 12,159 businesses were served through the program, 55,521 people were trained, 19,233 completed workshops and training, and 1,433 were placed in jobs.

During the 2015-16 year, the program provided $24.8 million to fund 95 grants throughout the state, an increase of approximately $2.2 million from the year before.


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On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_

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