Strong Workforce Funding: A $200M Infusion for CTE and the Academic Senate’s Role

ASCCC President
ASCCC Vice President

In June 2016, Governor Brown signed SB 830, the budget trailer bill, establishing the Strong Workforce Program for the California Community Colleges that grants $200 million in ongoing funding to support and expand career technical education. This allocation will provide a welcome and much needed infusion of support for CTE and workforce programs at institutions around the state.  The funding will be divided between direct distribution to colleges and regional support, and academic senates should play an important role in ensuring that the funding is used effectively and appropriately.  

The Strong Workforce Program Funding Model

Five percent of the $200 million will go to a college that will provide leadership for the program and coordination of the funds.  Of the remaining funds, 40% will be distributed to the seven regions and 60% to districts.  The disbursement to districts is based on the following formula:

YEAR 1:         1/3 Unemployment Rate

                        1/3 CTE FTES

                        1/3 Job Openings.

Thus, funding is based on the needs of the region, demonstrated by the unemployment rate and job openings, and the current full-time equivalent students (FTES) in programs coded as career technical education.

Starting in year two, Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) performance metrics[1] are included in the funding formula.   A summary of those metrics can be found at. The formula for Year 2 and every year thereafter will be as follows:

YEAR 2+:       1/3 Unemployment Rate

                        1/3 CTE FTES

                        1/6 Job Openings

                        1/6 WIOA Metrics.

Sixty percent of the money distributed directly to districts is intended to address areas needing support as identified by the community college system to the legislature, including equipment, facilities, professional development, class size restrictions, the need for full-time faculty, dynamic curriculum, and changes in response to labor market demand.  To maintain the ability to collect apportionment, the standard Chancellor’s Office recommendation is to fund up to 80% of the cost of, for example, a full-time faculty member with Strong Workforce money and the other 20% from general funds.

The 40% of the funding distributed to regions should take the form of visible support to the colleges in the region or be distributed to the colleges.  An example of appropriate regional expenditures could include coordinated advisory committee meetings to ensure the colleges in the region are meeting the labor market needs or responding to an emerging labor market need. Funding could then be distributed to a college or a number of colleges that would develop programs to meet the emerging need.  Each region has some freedom to decide how to utilize the 40% as long as the region adheres to the parameters established in the legislation and by the Chancellor’s Office. 

The Strong Workforce Program accountability measures are built into the funding model starting in the second year.  In addition, the Scorecard and IEPI metrics will be used to evaluate the system’s performance.  Additional metrics are spelled out in legislation, including metrics that align with WIOA, such as employment rates and employment in the field of study. 

The Local Academic Senate’s Role In Implementing The Strong Workforce Program

The academic senate’s purview over educational program development, policies for faculty professional development, processes for program review, and processes for institutional planning and budget development is codified in Title 5.   Colleges and districts should have established policies and processes for institutional planning and budget development in addition to evaluating all programs, discontinuing or creating programs, and providing professional development.  These processes should be flexible enough to accommodate the influx of additional dollars targeted to improving and expanding CTE programs.  However, some colleges may need to incorporate the more focused elements of the Strong Workforce Program metrics into college processes to meet the requirements for funding. 

The regional aspect may be new for some members of local academic senates.  Interested faculty can find their own college’s region and access the regional consortium’s website through .  As the regional consortia meet and determine educational priorities and processes for allocating funding, local academic senates should have representatives in attendance and participating that can communicate the recommendations of the college to the consortium and provide reports to the senate regarding the outcomes of these meetings.  This job may be assumed by the senate president or delegated to an individual such as the local senate’s CTE liaison.  In any case, faculty must involve themselves in the academic and professional matters discussed locally and regionally. 

As the Strong Workforce Program is implemented regionally and locally, academic senates and CTE faculty will have even greater responsibility in ensuring that their colleges’ governance processes support CTE programs. These efforts are critical to securing successful outcomes for students, colleges, industry, and communities.