Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro
California career tech education plummets in 2013Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Feb. 9, 2014
Last week the state released its new data on career and technical education enrollments in the state's public high schools. While overall high school enrollment was down less than one percent in 2013, career technical education course enrollments were down almost 12 percent and CTE teachers had declined by almost 20 percent.
California manufacturers continue to find a growing lack of skilled workers out of our high schools, our community colleges and our universities. The state's public schools must find ways to bring back these courses and expose our students to the tremendous opportunities of manufacturing skills and careers.
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One of the world's three 'sustainable manufacturing' degree programs is in California's backyardPosted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on May 9, 2013
Manufacturing got technical over the last few decades. It got harder. It's paying more. It's more innovative. It's "advanced", and In California it has to be tremendously efficient to compete. It must constantly improve and account for the end-of-life of its products.
California State University at Chico has answered the state's call by providing one of only three programs in the world that offers a four-year degree in "Sustainable Manufacturing". This program is in part filling a massive and growing California void of industrially trained students that can go from the production floor to management soon after graduating from college.
The Chico program has a whopping 100 percent job placement success rate and 15 percent of their graduates are women. The average initial pay is $54,000 and sometimes starts as high as $76,000.
No, these students don't often put on a tie and go look important in a cubicle. They have real knowledge and skills. They go on to make the highly innovative products that California has been famous for engineering and producing. They create solutions to real-world problems and tend to the evolution of those solutions within companies with lots of employees. They often end up in high managerial positions for extremely successful manufacturers.
Specifically the "Sustainable Manufacturing" program at Chico is an integrated field of study that combines technical feasibility with environmental responsibility and economic viability. You might think the word "sustainable" is just another packaging of the buzz term "green" but it's not. The degree focuses on making sure the students understand business viability for the manufacturing of a product. That means keeping the business operating, growing and competitive, as well as focusing on successful end-of-life dynamics for a product. The program is both lecture-based as well as hands-on in laboratories with industrial grade machinery.
The leader of the program, Daren Otten said, "with this program we are addressing California manufacturing workforce needs with technically educated Californians who understand the challenges and opportunities associated with doing business in the state."
While Chico is doing great things, the shortage of hands-on education in California is systemic at the University level and even more importantly at the high school level. Less than 30 percent of our high school students ever get to take a hands-on course. Exposure to these skills and real-world learning in the teen years could drive a larger movement of success and interest among our future workers and provide colleges like Chico with students who are willing to dive into the opportunities that manufacturing provides. If more universities offered programs like the one at Chico, our high-wage manufacturers would have access to a larger pool of talent to grow their efficient production facilities in California.
CMTA tips its collective hat to Cal State Chico in developing a program that could be the leading edge of future manufacturing training programs.
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Finance reform without accountability could devastate career techPosted by Jack Stewart, President on June 4, 2012
Cross-posted on June 3, 2012 at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation
Under the current K-12 public education system in California, programs that are not required, measured, or explicitly funded by the state will disappear from our schools. Elective courses are becoming victims of educational policy that only recognizes “success” as defined by scores on standardized tests in courses mandated for graduation or college admission. Since that’s all that is really measured, that’s all that will really matter.
The ongoing state budget deficit and the lack of financial incentives to support programs outside of the mandated core academics will undoubtedly force districts to abandon such electives with impunity. This is our concern with the “Weighted Student Formula” (WSF) proposal. Because the latest version of education finance reform doesn’t alter the current approach to accountability, we fear WSF will accelerate an already alarming narrowing of the curriculum.
In areas like career technical education (CTE), the impact of this well-intended reform could be devastating. Without incentives provided to districts to support these elective programs, there is simply no reason for them to do so. If you doubt that scenario, just examine the impact of the “flexibility” provisions granted to districts for programs like ROPs, Adult Education, and others since 2009 under the state budget. Given the unfettered authority to “flex” the use of these funds for any purpose, districts have obliterated Adult Ed throughout the state, and have put undue pressure on the vast majority of ROPs to survive on a starvation diet. Without appropriate educational policies that hold districts accountable for truly meeting the needs of all students, this scenario will hold true for programs outside of the “required” or “measured” mandate. That’s not a recipe for success.
From a purely budgetary perspective, distributing CTE dollars without any vocational accountability upon schools makes little sense either. The three CTE-related categoricals most at risk under WSF leverage every dollar the state invests. The Ag Incentive Grant requires local districts to match each state dollar (requiring districts to provide an extensive, annual report on the use of those precious state dollars). Apprenticeships are largely funded by contractors and unions, thereby stretching each state dollar invested in these “learn while you earn” programs. And Partnership Academies require both a local and industry match for each state dollar, magnifying the state’s investment threefold. Simply sending out these dollars on an per-student basis without any vocational strings 0r leveraged match requirements will cause more harm to education under any calculation.
We hope the governor and the Legislature take the time necessary to develop solutions to protect career technical education programs while also achieving education finance reform. Given the challenges facing these programs at the local level, we know our schools will not continue to support career technical education without the incentives to do so.
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