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Superintendent/President Message

Nov. 6, 2012

Regional Focus on Career Technical Education

More than 150 people from throughout San Diego County attended our Getting Technical summit last week. Representatives from community colleges throughout the region, as well as elected officials and local industry joined the conversation on what we can do to better link our academic programs with workforce needs.

Van Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for workforce and economic development for the California Community College Chancellor's OfficeVan Ton-Quinlivan, vice chancellor for workforce and economic development for the California Community College Chancellor's Office

California Community College’s Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan provided a state perspective on efforts to strengthen regional workforce and economic development networks and their efforts to create shared goals and develop an integrated data collection system to measure those goals.

The statewide goal is to have each region decide on program capacity as a whole. Additionally, each region will identify three primary sectors/clusters and the top two emerging sectors/clusters.

Our region has identified the following:

Top Three =
  • Life sciences/Bio-tech/Healthcare
  • Infrastructure: Energy/Transportation/Utilities
  • Manufacturing/Engineering
Emerging =   Clean Tech (green) & Cyber Security.


  Additionally, "braided" funding from state and federal sources could then be targeted to the regional consortia across the state.  In sum, the vision from the system-level is that our CTE efforts will be regional, will be targeted to specific sectors, and will leverage funds rather than disperse.  This is a significant change in focus for us in California community colleges.

Ton-Quinlivan’s remarks served as a foundation for deeper discussion in breakout sessions for two of our local area’s fastest-growing industries—health sciences and maritime technologies. The conversations were meaningful and informative.

John Pasha, Senior Vice President, Pasha AutomotiveJohn Pasha, senior vice president at Pasha Automotive, makes a point about the value trained local technicians add to imported vehicles at the Port of San Diego.

While many may believe the needs in health sciences are for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and X-ray technicians, our panel talked about the pressing need for non-traditional caregiver pipelines. As the health care philosophy moves more from "sick care" to "well care," there will be a growing need for health and wellness coaches, nutrition educators and health careers that address obesity and chronic diseases, panelists said.

Those attending the maritime technologies session were schooled on the wide variety of workforce opportunities. From the military, to tourism, to shipbuilding and ship repair, 95 percent of the jobs in these fields are located south of the Coronado Bridge, our panelists said.

The maritime industry is hungry to help build a pipeline for trained professionals. Our panelists said they had the materials, resources and funds to sustain such an effort. What they needed were people to develop curriculum and train employees.

Professionals from both industries spoke about the technical needs for their workforce, but they also emphasized the need for soft skills—customer service, good communication skills, ability to multi-task and basic business skills.

So where do we go from here?

On Friday, VPAA Kathy Tyner and VPSA Angelica Suarez met with all the deans and shared the findings of the morning. If we are to prepare our students for these high-growth, high-wage jobs, how do we infuse communications, business and multi-tasking skills across our curriculum? How do we help our students master the use of data to analyze situations and create solutions? In other words, how do we blend career technical skills into the academic program?

The deans were excited when they left their meeting Friday. Over the next several weeks, the deans will be asking faculty for their ideas so that we can continue to move the conversation into action.

One of our speakers on the health sciences panel summed up our needs quite succinctly. He said that there are many industry "pipelines," but many of them are not connected. Southwestern College has an opportunity to lead an effort for workforce collaboration across the county.