Workforce Task Force Recommendations: Minimum Qualifications and Faculty Preparation

ASCCC Secretary, Standards and Practices Chair, and CCCAOE Representative

In November of 2015, the Board of Governors approved 25 recommendations put forward by the Task Force on Workforce, Job Creation, and a Strong Economy. The Board directed the Task Force to only consider career technical programs in their deliberations, but implementation of the recommendations, especially those that are inherently academic and professional matters, will clearly have ramifications for all faculty. More specifically, of the 25 recommendations, four directly affect CTE faculty, and two directly impact minimum qualifications and equivalency:

  • Increase the pool of qualified CTE instructors by addressing CTE faculty recruitment and hiring practices
    • Clarify legislative and regulatory barriers to hiring CTE instructors who may not meet existing college hiring standards but possess significant industry experience.
    • Disseminate effective practices in the recruitment and hiring of diverse faculty and the application of minimum qualifications and equivalencies.
  • Consider options for meeting minimum qualifications to better integrate industry professionals who possess significant experience into CTE instructional programs.
    • Convene discipline faculty statewide to establish general criteria that may be used at local colleges when granting equivalency for minimum qualifications within CTE disciplines.
    • Develop and promote guidelines to implement Title 5 §53502, Faculty Internship Minimum Qualifications, for those disciplines for which a master’s degree is not expected or required.
    • Convene representative apprenticeship teaching faculty, labor organizations, and other stakeholders to review the appropriateness of minimum qualifications for apprenticeship instructors.

Of course, any challenge in hiring qualified faculty at colleges, especially in career technical programs, should be addressed. Faculty must have the content knowledge of their discipline, and they must be able to teach knowledge and skills to our students to ensure that students are well qualified to move into their careers of choice once they complete degrees or certificates from their community colleges. 

Recruiting and hiring faculty to meet the needs of and reflect the diversity in our student population is a complex problem and one that is being addressed in multiple forums. The Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Advisory Committee of the Chancellor’s Office is working to construct a framework that takes the most diverse pool of future applicants – our students – and develops mechanisms that promote and encourage their eventual return to our colleges as faculty.  This project is as valid in a potential AA to MA track as in an AA to industry track, thus supporting both disciplines where a master’s degree is required and disciplines where it is not. The diversification of faculty and building systemic structures to train our own will be long-term endeavors.

Efforts are currently underway to create mechanisms to possibly standardize what industry can expect from a community college degree. The C-ID system, designed and implemented originally by the ASCCC to facilitate transfer, is broadening its scope to call together CTE discipline faculty to identify common curricula and potentially common discipline preparation for certificate and degree attainment.  This process will help provide consistent messages to industry about what a degree framework from a California community college provides. 

Hiring faculty may be a rather complex issue if the applicant does not meet the letter of the minimum qualifications as codified in the Disciplines List. The task force recognized this challenge by recommending that discipline faculty assess and solve the inconsistencies in the application of equivalencies across the colleges. In doing so, colleges must distinguish their role in workforce training.  Many other agencies exist that provide workforce training in addition to the curriculum offered by community colleges, including private colleges, industry associations, occupational groups, and our own economic development not-for-credit programs. What makes us different is that our primary focus is to serve students and help our students achieve their short- and long-term goals and dreams.  This priority often coincides with the needs of industry and serves to grow regional economies, but our primary concern is our students.  Our goal is not only to train future workers to master a skill required by industry, but to additionally train students to communicate, calculate, and think critically, to master the immediate skill set for a job as well as the skills required to advance in a career.  This broader focus distinguishes our collegiate-based system from other training programs.  Of course, our not-for-credit courses may be beneficial to industry since they may not require the same curricular review or instructors who meet minimum qualifications and therefore may be more responsive to short term needs of industry.

For credit and noncredit instruction, colleges must employ instructors who not only have mastered the scope of a field – either a degree with a specific discipline focus or a number of years working in industry – but can also communicate to students the content and importance of that discipline knowledge, how it relates to other areas of study, how that knowledge can be applied in a variety of fields, and ultimately how the discipline relates to the fabric of society, which is the general education component of any degree.

To assist in addressing these challenges, the ASCCC is facilitating the creation of discipline specific guidelines that may be used locally to allow potential new employees to demonstrate they have qualifications that are at least equal to the minimum qualifications.  In this area, faculty can work to clarify and perhaps find commonality among the colleges to better serve our students as regions and as a system.  This effort must happen in conjunction with the other initiatives we are pursuing and may be the fastest to accomplish.

To begin to address the needs related to minimum qualifications, the ASCCC Standards and Practices Committee will undertake the following actions:  First, CID Discipline Input Group meetings are scheduled for April 8 for the disciplines of real estate, paralegal, environmental control technology, industrial systems technology, water and wastewater technology, and machining and machine tools.  These meetings will provide an excellent opportunity to engage practitioners regarding minimum qualifications and perhaps find some commonality regarding when and how equivalency is determined for a discipline.  Secondly, a webinar is scheduled for April 13 to clarify the scope of the issues and clarify what is and is not permissible with respect to the minimum qualifications and equivalency.  Third, a presentation is scheduled for the ASCCC plenary session that overlaps with the CIOs, CSSOs, and CCCAOE.  This event offers a prime opportunity to engage several constituencies and collect feedback.  Lastly, a meeting regarding these issues is planned for May 5 in conjunction with the CTE Leadership Institute in Anaheim.  The ASCCC invites all interested parties to join in this conversation as we work to improve our service to students. 

April 8: Discipline Input Groups for CTE Disciplines, April 8

April 13:  Webinar regarding equivalency practices and minimum qualifications

April 21:  ASCCC Plenary Session Presentation

May 5:  One day in person event in Anaheim prior to the CTE Leadership Institute