The New Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy: An Overview and a Call for Participation

February
2015
Julie Bruno, Vice President
Wheeler North, Treasurer and Futures Committee Chair

In January of 2012, the Student Success Task Force published its final report with recommendations that would impact in multiple ways the California Community College System.  In September 2014, Chancellor Brice Harris announced that by Fall 2015 the system would have addressed all 22 of these recommendations and was thus in a position to embark on another state level policy initiative.  Therefore, at its November 2014 meeting the Board of Governors commissioned a new Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy to examine workforce preparation education in California.

The new Workforce Task Force has the potential to significantly affect our colleges, our communities, our faculty, and, most importantly, our students.  Faculty, individually and through their local senates, must become engaged with this broad state-level initiative.  The ASCCC will keep faculty around the state informed regarding the task force’s progress through Rostrum articles, email updates, and breakouts at Academic Senate institutes and plenary sessions.  As this newly formed body begins its work, local senates and faculty at large first need to be familiar with the task force’s composition and charge and of the ways in which the ASCCC will support the faculty representatives and promote participation and input from all faculty and senate leaders.

Task Force Overview and ASCCC Representatives

As the website dedicated to the Workforce Task Force states, the goal of the task force is “to increase individual and regional economic competitiveness by providing California’s workforce with relevant skills and quality credentials that match employer needs and fuel a strong economy. The task force is to consider strategies and recommend policies and practices that would:

  1. Prepare students for high-value jobs that currently exist in the state,
  2. Position California’s regions to attract high-value jobs in key industry sectors from other states and around the globe,
  3. Create more jobs through workforce training that enables small business development, and
  4. Finance these initiatives by braiding existing state and federal resources.”[1]

To complete these tasks, the task force membership, appointed by Chancellor Brice Harris, includes 26 representatives evenly split with half of the members representing a variety of business, labor, workforce training, education, and community-based organizations and the other 13 members representing the faculty, administrators, and students of the California Community College system.

The process of making appointments to a large, high-level policy body can be difficult and controversial.  Many constituencies and individuals have vested interests in the outcome, and yet few possess a perspective that is sufficiently broad and diverse to assert significant representation while being specialized enough to ensure meaningful participation that yields functional results. Furthermore, one goal of the task force is to engage in dialog that unites stakeholders by reaching across all areas of California’s Community College mission.  In initial conversations with the Chancellor’s Office, the ASCCC was invited to identify for appointment three faculty members who could bring expertise in career technical education, general education, and basic skills. However, this initial proposal would have excluded important voices. For example, a central component of student success is the intersection between teaching and support, especially as students navigate the many possible academic and career pathways from high school to college or directly into the workforce. Counseling faculty are therefore critical to the success of all students and offer a perspective that had to be included in the task force‘s deliberations. Additionally, task force discussions are likely to cross into various issues which could impact local bargaining agreements, and thus a bargaining agent voice was necessary. Finally, some of the most significant topics of consideration for the task force are expected to deal with various aspects of curriculum, and therefore both the expertise of a local curriculum chair and a direct connection to the Academic Senate were important faculty perspectives to include.

Taking all of these considerations into account and working in consultation with the Academic Senate, Chancellor Brice Harris agreed to include a fourth faculty member on the task force and appointed the following faculty to serve:

  • Lynn Shaw, Task Force Co-Chair, Electrical Technologies Professor, LA/OC Regional Consortia Vice-Chair, President Long Beach City College Faculty Union
  • Julie Bruno, ASCCC Vice President, Intersegmental Curriculum Workgroup Chair, Executive Committee liaison to C-ID and Statewide Career Pathways Steering Committee member, Communication Studies Professor, Sierra College
  • Toni Parsons, Curriculum Committee Chair, Basic Skills- Math Professor, San Diego Mesa College
  • Lynell Wiggins, Counselor for CTE students and member of Statewide Career Pathways Steering Committee member, Pasadena City College

As a result of the variety of experience and knowledge of the faculty representatives, the task force will benefit from expertise in local and state curriculum processes, counseling process and practices, statewide projects including C-ID, Transfer Model Curriculum, Model Curriculum, and Statewide Career Pathways, the protection of employee rights provided by our negotiating representatives, and the assurance of decisions well-aligned with existing governance requirements and ASCCC positions.

Timeline

To support the work of the task force, the Chancellor’s Office has organized the process into three phases.  Phase one is a series of regional meetings to receive feedback from college administrators, faculty, and staff in three areas of interest: completion, responsiveness, and funding.  Eleven of these regional conversations hosted by the Chancellor’s Office were scheduled, beginning in late November and set to conclude in early February. To ensure the participation of faculty, the ASCCC, in partnership with the Chancellor’s Office, will hold three additional regional meetings February 27, 28, and March 13 (time and location is available on the Academic Senate website). The feedback from all of these regional meetings will be combined and used to inform the task force‘s discussions. Currently, the feedback is categorized into five overarching areas: 1) workforce data and outcomes; 2) curriculum and instructors; 3) structured career pathways and student support; 4) baseline funding; and 5) regional coordination.

The second phase is a series of five Strong Workforce Town Hall Meetings. These meetings will be held in various locations across the state and will seek input from leaders in business, industry, community organizations, and others on creating stronger alignment between the California Community College system and industry.  These meetings will take place in Sacramento, Mountain View, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Diego beginning in mid-February and continue through March.

The third phase is the task force meetings, January through July.  The first meeting, which was primarily an introductory information session rather than a discussion, was held on January 22.  The task force will meet four additional times throughout spring and summer to develop a set of system recommendations. Once the task force finalizes the recommendations, two additional town hall meetings will occur in August for dissemination and discussion of the recommendations. The recommendations will then go to Consultation Council for discussion in August and finally, for consideration by the Board of Governors in September.   A full schedule of all of the regional conversations, town hall meetings, and task force meetings can be found at http://doingwhatmatters.cccco.edu/StrongWorkforce/Overview.aspx.

The Futures Committee

To support the faculty representatives on the Workforce Task Force, the ASCCC has reconvened the Future of California Higher Education Ad Hoc Committee, commonly called the “Futures Committee.”  Originally created to study “the on-going role of the California community college system within California higher education,” the Futures Committee supported the faculty representatives for the Student Success Task Force and will play a similar role for the faculty representatives on the Workforce Task Force. The Futures Committee will research Academic Senate positions, investigate, analyze, and summarize information, gather and synthesize input from the field, and assist in prioritizing faculty interests in the deliberations. 

Wheeler North, ASCCC Treasurer and Aviation faculty at San Diego Miramar, will chair the Futures Committee. The Futures Committee members include the above mentioned task force members, ASCCC President David Morse, and ASCCC Executive Director Julie Adams. Additionally, to recognize the critical role of part-time faculty in CTE programs, Arnita Porter, Real Estate faculty at West Los Angeles College, and Shawn Carney, Drafting faculty at Solano College, have also been appointed to serve.

What’s Next?

The Workforce Task Force is charged with improving our students’ educational experience and preparing them for the workforce in California. The Academic Senate needs the help of all faculty in this effort. The timeline to complete the task force’s charge is aggressive, and the work demands our full attention and our best ideas. The regional college conversations, the Strong Workforce Town Hall Meetings, and the Task Force Meetings are all open events. The ASCCC encourages local faculty leaders to promote and support faculty attendance at the ASCCC regional meetings in February and March, to disseminate information on the progress of the Task Force to faculty, administrators, and staff, and to attend ASCCC events such as the Spring Plenary Session and the Vocational Education Institute to participate in the conversation and provide feedback to the task force representatives. All faculty can also visit the Workforce Task Force Webpage frequently and provide feedback on the work of the task force by clicking on the “feedback” button.

Inquiries, comments, or questions are welcome and may be directed to President Morse at dmorse [at] lbcc.edu, Vice President Julie Bruno at jbruno [at] sierra.edu, or Treasurer Wheeler North at wnorth [at] sdccd.edu.  The recommendations coming out of this process need to be based on well-informed contributions from all perspectives. Only with full faculty participation can we help to guide the work of the task force and ensure positive outcomes for our colleges, our communities, and our students.

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.