Although the city was ranked last in a national study of job opportunities for new college graduates, 18 of Santa Clarita’s College of the Canyons’ college career education programs were awarded ‘Strong Workforce Stars’ by the state. Financial website WalletHub conducted a study that looked at which cities were best for college graduates seeking employment and placed Santa Clarita after 181 other cities. The cities included were the 150 most populated U.S. cities, plus at least two of the most populated cities in each state. While the website gave Santa Clarita a low ranking, local officials countered by affirming the strength of the city’s programs, based on state recognition. On a state level, Santa Clarita is doing well to prepare its graduates. The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office named multiple programs for successfully improving student employment and wage outcomes on May 14, said COC spokesman Eric Harnish. “We have some of the strongest career education programs in the state,” Harnish said. “It’s relevant to talk about career education programs that received statewide recognition to help graduates gain substantial wage increases or find jobs in their fields of study, and that’s what the CCCCO looks at. The career education programs that are available at the state’s 114 available colleges.” Strong Workforce Stars is an annual recognition for career education programs within the California Community Colleges system whose graduates show significant gains in earnings, attainment of a living wage and a job closely matched with the field of study. The college’s nursing program was among the 116 career education programs across 71 California community colleges to receive the Gold Star honor. The program demonstrated a 235 percent increase in earnings, 84 percent of students attaining the regional living wage and 100 percent employment. The college’s human resources management, small business management, marketing, construction management technology, and water systems technology programs were ranked as Silver Star programs. Bronze star recipients were automotive technology, accounting, child development (early care and education), child development (administration and management), medical laboratory technology, office technology (office computer applications), film production, computer networking, administration of justice, fire technology, hospitality, and paralegal. Nursing graduates demonstrated a 235 percent increase in earnings and 100 percent employment rates, Harnish said. Job readiness also starts at the local level for high school students, said Sue Reynolds Buckley, career development coordinator for the William S. Hart Union High School District. If students are concerned about what a post-graduate career looks like, they should consult their school district’s career services and seek mentors, she said. At pathwaytomyfuture.com, high school students can explore many different sorts of career pathways and take sequences of courses related to their interests. Career and College Readiness courses are also available to provide work-based learning and career guidance to Hart District students, even for adults to learn entry-level employment skills and prepare for advanced training. “You can’t just use an Internet search — you must actually seek guidance,” Buckley said. “It takes a village, but the village is available.” The unemployment rate in Santa Clarita was 3.8 percent as of Nov. 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That was 0.3 percent lower than the national average recorded at that time, 4.1 percent.