higher education

©2010 Bob Foster
California Needs Two Million More College Completions to Stay Economically Competitive


Report from business and civic leaders outlines steps to improve higher education to better serve students and taxpayers even in tough economic times

Long Beach, CA – If current trends continue, California’s higher education system won’t produce the college degrees that the state needs to maintain its vitality and economic leadership, according to a report released today by business and civic leaders. The state’s public and private colleges and universities will graduate more than three million students with bachelor’s degrees and technical credentials between now and 2025, according to the report. However, the state will need more than five million to stay economically competitive, leaving a gap estimated at 2.3 million.

The new report, The Road Ahead: Higher Education, California’s Promise, and Our Future Economy, calls for streamlining community college management and increasing coordination across all types of colleges to fill this gap in degrees and technical credentials. The recommendations were developed by the California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy Council, a group of business and civic leaders who met over the past year to take stock of the higher education needs of the state.

“The greatest source of jobs for California comes from our residents’ talent and creativity,” said Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster and California Competes Council Chair. “On our present path, we will fall far short on the number of degrees and certifications necessary for our future economy. We must ensure that higher education equips Californians with the skills they need to succeed; it is those skills that will fuel the economy of the future,” he added.

Council member Paul Hudson, Chairman of Broadway Federal Bank, called on state officials to recognize that “we must embrace pragmatic solutions that help students make their way through college and compete in California’s new economy. Our future economic growth depends on us preparing students for the high-skilled labor market. We need strong leaders who are willing to advance innovative solutions and insure accountability for the success of students and the state.”

Responding to the report’s findings, Eloy Ortiz Oakley, Superintendent-President of Long Beach City College, acknowledged some of the political barriers to change. “Colleges are complex organizations that value tradition and have entrenched interests which can make change difficult. But the status quo will not serve the interests of students, the taxpayers, or the economy. College leaders must accept the challenge of increasing the number of degree and certificate holders and embrace policy decisions that will help us confront that challenge.”

Among the proposals set forth by the Council is streamlining and improving community college management to better address the needs of students and to be more responsive to California’s economic and workforce needs. The group argues for both transforming the California Community College system office so it can more effectively lead the colleges in its purview, and restoring clear accountability for decision making to local boards and administrators to grow the number of degree and credential holders in the state.

The report also highlights the need for state policy makers to have a mechanism to help them prioritize funding to increase transfers, degrees and certificates across all state colleges and universities. That would be achieved by chartering an independent Higher Education Investment Board that would also take over responsibility for managing the state’s scholarship programs.

To view a fact sheet of the report’s findings, please visit http://bit.ly/cacomexec.

To view the full report, please visit http://bit.ly/cacom.

(Left to right) Lande Ajose (California Competes Deputy Director), Mayor Foster, Eloy Ortiz Oakley (Long Beach City College President), and Bob Shireman (California Competes Director) speak at the press conference.

See below for quotes on the importance of this report for California’s business, civic and education leaders:

Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, California’s 6th District

“Despite the hurdles of an economy still struggling to recover, we cannot sacrifice our state’s future. This report shows that we have a high bar to remain competitive on a national and global playing field and underscores the need to ensure we help students get where the economy needs them to go.”

Assemblymember Marty Block, Representing California’s 78th District and Chair, Assembly Higher Education Committee

“California’s continued economic leadership depends on graduating more than two million more students with a four-year degree or technical certificate by 2025. A degree or certificate is the starting point for success in today’s economy. I commend California Competes for its efforts to rally resources and attention to this critical need.”

Scott Himelstein, President, California Community Colleges Board of Governors

“This report reinforces the imperative that California must act now to increase attainment rates for certificates, degrees and transfer and close the achievement gap for historically under-represented students. The California Community Colleges Board of Governors is committed to improving student success and welcomes the engagement of California Competes and other stakeholders committed to achieving these goals.”

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California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy develops non-partisan and financially pragmatic recommendations for improved policies and practices in California higher education.  Opportunity, creativity, enterprise, efficiency, and growth are the hallmarks of economic development and the lens through which California Competes helps the state improve postsecondary education in order to drive economic growth and vibrant communities today and tomorrow. California Competes is a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc.  More information on California Competes can be found at: http://californiacompetes.org/.

©2010 Bob Foster
Mayor Foster’s statement on Chancellor Charles B. Reed’s retirement


“Charlie was the chancellor for most of the eight years I served on the CSU Board of Trustees. I have nothing but admiration for what he’s brought to the CSU system. He’s been at the helm during difficult times for universities and has tried to remain true to the CSU goals of quality higher education and access for all California students. I wish him well in his next chapter of his life.”

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©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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