California Education Dialogue

A public policy dialogue produced by Information Renaissance
with support from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation,
IBM Corporation and Intel Corporation



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Report of the Working Group on Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages


Executive Summary

Summary of Recommendations

History of Workforce Preparation Education in California


Five Precepts For Effective Career/Workforce Preparation Programs


I. Academic Integration
1.1 Academics and career preparation
1.2 School to Career (STC) concept
1.3 Resources for career guidance
1.4 Recruitment for counselors and workforce teachers
1.5 Professional development

II. Alignment
2.1 Roles and responsibilities
2.2 Career/workforce preparation programs
2.3 Network structure

III. Accountability
3.1 Workforce report card
3.2 Student data collection to include workforce preparation
3.3 Postsecondary funding on completion

IV. Resources
4.1 Fund costs
4.2 Grant flexibility

V. Private Postsecondary
5.1 Review governance of Bureau




Members of the Working Group


This report is grounded in a fundamental principle of the Master Plan effort, as well as the workgroup's overarching philosophy -- that all students should be better prepared academically, regardless of where they may enter or exit the K-16 system. For California students to participate fully in the emerging global, technology-based economy, it is critical that they attain higher levels of achievement in core academic subject areas, especially, reading, writing, mathematics, and science. In the 21st Century, business and industry are demanding individuals who have high degrees of academic knowledge and who can apply that knowledge in an increasingly technology-rich workplace.

The workforce offers a diverse array of opportunities. While, almost seven in ten job openings now require postsecondary degrees or certificates, there is currently a serious shortage of skilled workers, with more than 61 million workers estimated to retire over the next three decades.

To foster greater learning among the full population of students, the Working Group recommends that instruction be more contextualized -- blending theory with application -- across the full curricula. In addition, this report calls for widespread implementation of career guidance and advisement across all levels of education to provide students with a greater understanding of resources and varied opportunities available to them at major junctures, in order that they are able to make quality decisions about future careers and/or postsecondary choices.

To facilitate this decision-making, the report asserts that the workforce preparation programs across all levels of education must be aligned and have some linkage to workforce training programs in the state and the labor market. There must be strong articulation of career technical programs within the education system. In order to maximize the opportunity for program improvement over time, data should be available to permit analysis of student achievement, as well as institutional performance. Programs which claim to have an impact on students' success in the labor market should be held accountable, to some degree, for the labor market success of their students and for providing evidence of the extent to which this claim is accurate. The ability to document student achievement in acquiring appropriate workforce skills, to make both quantitative and qualitative evaluations of program effectiveness, and to identify which programs result in higher earnings and job placement, for all students are fundamental goals for linkage to statewide workforce preparation programs. The Legislature should make accountability for outcomes highly visible and public.

This proposed structure engages the full system of education and sends the message that the state must do better. Simply put, the interest of the student must be at the heart of every structural consideration. The pace of the state's economy is increasing exponentially, while the pace of workforce preparation programs and the education system is moving more slowly. To best serve the students, there must be greater connectivity and synchronicity to facilitate their transition to the workforce, immediately upon graduation from high school, after a postsecondary completion, and/or over a lifetime of learning.

Summary of Recommendations


1.1 Integrate academics and career preparation throughout K-16.

1.2 Extend School-to-Career (STC) concept across K-University.

1.3 Increase resources for career guidance and assistance to students.

1.4 Expand recruitment for counselors and workforce teachers.

1.5 Improve Professional Development for Counselors and Teachers.


2.1 The state should establish the following roles and responsibilities for a statewide system of career/workforce preparation programs in education:
  • Elementary schools shall be responsible for introducing career awareness to students.
  • Middle schools shall be responsible for initiating career exploration to students.
  • Secondary schools shall be responsible for providing school-to-career and employment preparation opportunities to students through programs offered at school and business sites.
  • Community colleges shall be responsible for providing expanded employment training programs in conjunction with specialized courses, career certificates, and the AA degree for adults. The training may be in high schools and ROCPs and/or articulated programs leading to four-year college degrees.
  • State-approved Private Postsecondary Institutions, Continuing Education, University Extension, Employer-provided training, and Non LEA entities, such as WIA Board Community Partners, shall provide employment training programs leading to specific jobs and that are responsive to industry requirements for professional development and license renewal.
  • Public and private colleges and universities shall jointly be responsible for preparing associate, baccalaureate, and advanced degree graduates for productive roles as problem solvers, innovators, and leaders. All three public postsecondary systems should give prominent consideration to the state's changing economic needs and to emerging workforce opportunities for graduates, as factors in academic and strategic planning.

2.2 The alignment of career technical programs should be broad in scope.

2.3 The structure of a career/workforce preparation system should reflect a tightly -coupled network model, characterized by relatively autonomous nodes of education/training providers, intermediary industry, trade, and professional organizations; strategic connections to the labor force; and a high level of communication among network members.


3.1 The state should expand the current workforce report card to include K-University programs.

3.2 The state should expand student data collection system and link to postsecondary institutions and the Employment Development Department (EDD).

3.3 The state should focus some portion of postsecondary funding on program/certificate/degree completion, time to completion, and education/labor market outcomes rather than only enrollment.


4.1 Any proposed funding model must recognize in its formula for adequacy:

  • The costs of recruiting, education and professional development for staff in career technical programs, and career technical learning strategies; and

  • The costs associated with the instructional facilities and equipment required to delivering instruction in career technical programs.

4.2 Consideration should be given to granting the educational segments flexibility in their internal allocation of funds to address the higher costs associated with career, technical and scientific instruction and contextualized learning more broadly. Specifically:

  • The differential cost of recruiting, education and retaining teachers, faculty and support staff in career, technical and scientific disciplines;

  • The differential costs associated with the instructional facilities and equipment required to deliver instruction in career, technical and scientific fields; and

  • The differential costs associated with contextualized learning, including laboratory, field and applied industry experiences.


5.1 The Joint Committee should conduct a review to determine the most efficacious and effective placement of governance for the Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education (BPPVE).

Vision Statement

The Workforce Preparation and Business Linkages Strategic Planning Group's goal envisions a greatly revitalized educational system driven by increasingly dynamic programs of integrated and contextualized instructional strategies, which engage all students. The system will provide multiple entrance and exit points over a lifetime of learning and work and will foster broad, equitable access to occupational and career opportunities at all levels of the state's economy.

Equitable and adequate investments will fuel professional development and instructional innovation to support a well-qualified teaching force strengthened by collaborative efforts among K-University, business, and community sectors. Greater accountability will serve to bring about program improvement to create a decentralized, high-performance, and learner-focused system of workforce preparation that guides students toward opportunities and resources through each juncture of their education, allowing them to thrive and prosper in the workplaces of the 21st century.

Table of Contents
Summary Introduction 1. Integration 2. Alignment
3. Accountability 4. Resources 5. Private Conclusion
References Charge Members Notes