Career Ladders Project Update

December
2003
Mark Wade Lieu, Career Ladders Project Liaison

The California Community Colleges Board of Governors made career ladders a priority in 2002-2003, resulting in the funding of a system grant project to support the development of career ladders in the system while seeking additional funding from other sources. As your liaison to the Career Ladders Advisory Board for the project, I would like to update you on what has been happening with the project.

The grant project proposal has several components. First, the project plans to assess the status of career ladders in colleges across the system. Ten sample colleges will be chosen for in-depth interviews. Second, the project will identify sources of funds for the furthering of career ladders and detail how to access such funds. Finally, the project will establish an action plan and timelines for the System to assist in the further development of career ladders as an integral part of the California Community College mission.

Linda Collins, a past president of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, was appointed the director of the project in the Spring 2003. Over the summer, she pulled together a project advisory board, hired staff, and established a website for dissemination of project information. The advisory board includes a wide range of members, representing students, workforce programs, foundations, the Board of Governors, districts, faculty and the Chancellor's Office. A full list of members, as well as the full grant proposal, is available on the website at www.careerladderspr oject.org.

The fall semester has been largely taken up with discussions of the selection of the ten sample colleges for interviews. The advisory group reviewed what criteria to use for choosing the colleges. The project wants to include colleges that are doing very well with the criteria as well as those that are facing significant barriers to implementing career ladders approaches. The criteria include these elements that selected colleges should have:

Connections to industry;
Connections to the workforce system through such entities as Workforce Investment Boards and social service agencies;
Connections to community-based organizations;
Connections to economic development agencies;
Linkages to and sequences of courses or programs with high schools;
Curricular links between basic skills/ESL and the rest of the curriculum (including internal pathways and career preparation);
Support services; and
Regional orientation.

In addition, the selection process will seek diversity among the colleges in terms of their region, location (urban/rural), size, and programmatic coverage.

The advisory board has been reviewing all colleges in the system to narrow the list of potential interviewees. The board has also been preparing the list of questions for the interviews. Before the semester is over, the final list of questions will have been field-tested and the final list of ten colleges selected.

For more information about the Career Ladders Project, you can contact project director Linda Collins at lcollins [at] careerladdersproject.org.

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