©2010 Bob Foster
Mayor Foster joins California Competes Council

Business Executives and Mayors to Focus on California’s Economy and Lack of Skilled Grads

California Competes Council to tackle higher education’s future

Sixteen top California business and civic leaders announced today that they are joining together to form the California Competes Council to ensure the state has college graduates with the skills needed to drive the future California economy.  As members of the California Competes Council, these concerned leaders from across the state will analyze the well documented gap between emerging human capital demands and the projected number and quality of graduates of California’s college and occupational training programs. With its unique combination of leaders from both industry and government, the California Competes Council will develop innovative recommendations for improvement of the state’s higher education systems to reinvigorate the state’s pool of human talent that was once the envy of the nation.

“Other states and nations have invested in technical training and higher education systems and as a result are producing more college graduates qualified to meet employer demands. Jobs and the economic growth generated by job creation will go where the talent is.” says Paul Hudson, CEO of Broadway Federal Bank and a member of the newly formed Council. “We need to ensure that we produce such talent and put it to work to grow the California economy.”

“Californians have thrived both economically and socially because of the creativity and skills people have developed in our excellent higher education system,” says Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, another member of the Council. “However, it’s forecasted that employers in California will have trouble finding qualified local applicants for high-end jobs. For our state to maintain its competitive economic edge, this Council will address the gap between employer expectations and the student demands on higher education.”

The California Competes Council will take a comprehensive view of higher education in California, assessing the role of the state’s unique public colleges as well as private institutions. The Council will also consider the diversity of the state’s future human capital demands, addressing both traditional four-year degrees and technical training programs that provide students with credentials after a year or two of study.

The California Competes Council includes CEOs from the technology, finance, retail, service and construction sectors, as well as mayors from key cities throughout the state. The bi-partisan Council includes Thomas Hayes, a former Republican state treasurer, and Aida Alvarez, a Democrat who led the U.S. Small Business Administration. Staffing for the group includes Robert Shireman, an education expert who served in the Obama Administration.

“I don’t want to feel like I’m a spectator at a demolition. Taxpayer dollars are scarce, which means we must take extra care to use them strategically,” says Shireman. “That may mean some redesign so that we can get what the state needs from public and private higher education.”

California Competes is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and is supported by private foundations including the College Access Foundation of California, Ford Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

For a list of the members of the California Competes Council, with brief biographies: http://californiacompetes.org/?page_id=296

More information at http://californiacompetes.org/.

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