Saddleback College Hosts AACC WDI Conference


Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in the 22nd Annual American Association of Community College’s Workforce Development Institute hosted by Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College and Long Beach City.

The conference focuses on aligning the AACC’s commitment to moving their 21st-Century Commission Report, Reclaiming the American Dream – and accompanying Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future: An Implementation Guide – from ideas to action. The WDI’s 2015 theme, “Workforce Remix,” challenged participants to put a new spin on their workforce and development strategies and partnerships.

I was given the opportunity to speak to the conference attendees at the Plenary Session held last Wednesday. I was also invited to share how Saddleback College is using connected economic development solutions to ensure American’s competitiveness.

Below are some highlights of my speech that touched on the AACC’s 21st Century Report:

“The AACC 21st Century Report reminds us that this task will take all of us to work toward a common direction. It will take time and commitment. We will need to address:

• The need to increase college completion. We need to strive to reach a 50 percent completion rate by the year 2020.
• Our transfer and career technical education programs need to address worker skills gaps that our industry advisors continue to tell us are problems when they hire workers.
• Student success needs to be a major focus in our efforts. As we work with incumbent and future workers, we need to monitor their progress and provide them with the opportunities to successfully prepare themselves with the needed skills to be a successful worker.
• In order to support student success, we can no longer be independent academic institutions. We need to develop pathways that are no longer just transfer to four-year universities. Instead we need to develop pathways that start in middle school or sooner. At Saddleback College, we like to use the term K through Career. In order to reach K-Career, we need create attainable pathways that start with our K-12 partners, our fellow community colleges in the region, and our four-year universities. We need to be able to articulate coursework where possible and focus on creating stackable degrees and certificates that will make skills attainment and credentialing worker friendly.

The CA community colleges, and specifically the nine colleges in Orange County, are currently working on several initiatives to achieve the goals of the 21st Century Report.

• For many years, each college has been working on creating articulation agreements with our K-12 partners so that students can attain college credit for classes while they are in high school for CTE programs (SB70 and SB1070).
• The CA community colleges and California State universities have been developing transfer model curriculum so that community college CTE students have transfer pathways into the CSU system so that they can pursue high paying, high skilled careers (CA C-ID).
• The CA community colleges have been working on aligning curriculum so that stackable credentials will be possible (SB1070). This will allow students the freedom to choose which college meets their educational needs. This effort is also being coordinated with our K-12 partners.
• In Orange County, the nine community colleges, the Orange County Department of Education, and K-12 school districts created the OC Partnership to create a region-wide pathway model that will develop a model pathway for priority and emerging sectors. Under last year’s Career Pathways Trust grant, the OC Partnership is focusing on advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information communication technology pathways that will help our workforce train for the jobs of the future.”

As part of the host duties, Saddleback College arranged a education tour for interested attendees to visit our campus. The education tour highlighted our occupational and career technical education programs. Two additional tours were offered, one to Northrop Grumman and another to the Montage Laguna Beach which focused on hospitality careers in the area.

Saddleback was proud to be one of the host community colleges for this conference. I know attendees gained a wealth of knowledge and enjoyed spending time in our wonderful county.