Viewing blog posts written by Jack Stewart

California's new economy: Running on empty

Posted by Jack Stewart, on April 27, 2008

California is at a crossroads.  For twenty years we have neglected career technical education (CTE) in our public schools.  Each year the number of CTE courses offered to our students declines and, as a result, the number of CTE teachers and CTE student enrollments are at historic lows.

At the same time, the demand for skilled workers is growing and in many industries the demand has already outpaced the number of available workers.  Add to that dilemma the oncoming flood of baby boom retirements and the job demands of an emerging green economy and California’s economic engine could quickly run out of gas.

In his Sunday column, Dan Weintraub reports the upcoming flood of baby boom retirements will number between 2.4 and 2.7 million over the next ten years.  Weintraub puts those numbers into perspective: "250,000 to 300,000 job openings a year from retirements would just about equal the number of new jobs created annually in California between 1996 and 2006."

Add to those numbers the 89,000 new green jobs California’s global warming mandate is projected to create (view report) and the magnitude of the problem is quite clear.

Assembly candidate Dominic Caserta writes in the San Jose Mercury News that "At a January new-energy summit in San Francisco, corporate and government leaders bemoaned the shortage of qualified workers." and that "Our vocational and career-tech system should spearhead such training, but it's not known or stigmatizing for many students. And while community colleges can help fill gaps, many young people never set foot on another campus after high school."

A large majority of the new and replacement jobs will not require a four-year degree.  Most can be filled by new workers who receive 21st century technical training in their high schools and/or skills training in local community colleges.  Yet California’s education establishment increasingly insists that that every high school student be prepared for admission to a four-year university.

California needs to rethink our educational priorities and match our high school curriculum to real world job opportunities.  And, we need more clear thinkers like Dominic Caserta participating in the education reform debate.

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Earth Day today, CTE tomorrow

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 22, 2008

Yesterday was an Earth Day celebration, but the other 364 days of the year are when the work really gets done.  It's when we invest in the workforce and technologies needed to innovate, manufacture, research, install and maintain the products that will keep the forthcoming Earth Days .... well, green.

Accentuating this point at a press conference in the State Capitol yesterday was the Get REAL coalition, Lieutenant Gov. John Garamendi, Senator Tom Torlakson, Assemblywoman Loni Hancock and Assemblyman Martin Garrick.   The overall plea was for the State to stop bleeding career technical education courses out of our high schools.   Almost 90,000 "green jobs" will be created in California by 2020, CTE enrollment has decreased from 74 percent to 30 percent over the last twenty years, and, all the while, 40 percent of our students are dropping out of high schools before they even get exposed to the contextualized training that could lead to high paying careers in the emerging green sectors and others.

One prime example of what's to come:  For every one megawatt of photovoltaics installed, 20 manufacturing jobs and 13 maintenance jobs are created for one year.  For the 20 percent of our high school students who go on to get four-year degrees before they are 25, this might not matter.  For the 80 percent that don't, it  could represent one of the many promising futures if we just gave them the fundamental training and inspiration they need.

As the State navigates difficult budget times, contemplates revenue enhancements and priorities, seeks to establish itself as the greenest in the Union, and covets new investments, it is crucial that existing and any new resources for schools be considered for career technical education.

Earth Day reminds us of our environmental priorities and accomplishments.   We will have a hard time accomplishing anything if our education system tells students and future workforce that CTE exposure is unavailable, unrequired, unfunded, unvalued and unmeasured.

View press conference video
View press release
View chart showing California's CTE decline

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Career Tech Education: Valued? First to go?

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on April 1, 2008

High-wage manufacturers rely on Career Technical Education courses at all levels to develop their workforce and build the new innovative products that this Century demands and the emerging green technologies require.  While California debates how to balance a Budget that spends far more than it takes in, tonight in Lodi we get a first-hand look at a pervasive and dangerous local school district trend already cutting courses and working against students and their potential employers.

Tokay High School students and teachers, and the Get REAL coalition (coalition website) will appear in a last ditch effort to save their construction technology program and prove the value of these courses.  They improve dropout rates, positively affect young lives, and provide a valuable skilled workforce to the local community.

Lodi has already cut two CTE courses in automotive and drafting education.

The first government programs and services gone in difficult times are always ones we don't value.  Tonight, we'll see just how much the Lodi School District values a program that everyone agrees increases opportunity.

View Coalition Advisory
View Coalition handout

UPDATE: April 3 -- Students, teachers, employers and State Board member Jim Aschwanden showed up to beg the district not to cut this program. The Lodi School District Board members tabled the vote but their comments, albeit positive regarding overall career technical education, indicated that budgetary constraints and remediation needs most likely will prohibit them from continuing the program.

Related media: Lodi Sentinel News

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