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Strong Workforce Initiative Update

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In August of 2016 a Community College League of California task force, led by MiraCosta’s own Dr. Sunny Cooke, met at the CTE Leadership Summit to outline the main goal for the initiative. The Goal: California Needs 1 Million More AA, Certificate, and Industry Valued Credentials. MiraCosta has been busy ever since, implementing the criteria necessary to meet the rigorous demands set forth for receiving funding from the initiative. A CTE Strong Workforce Advisory Committee (SWAC) was set up by CTE Dean, Al Taccone, and has been meeting every third Thursday since September 2016.


California’s needs for an educated, skilled workforce is the impetus for the $200 million California Strong Workforce Development Initiative. Designed to focus California Community Colleges on efficiently and effectively educating their Career and Technical students, the goal is to provide them a pathway into California’s burgeoning workforce. The approach is academic education and skills training, with an emphasis on industry affiliation.


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According to Dr. Taccone, the first year’s activities that were, “affirmed, facilitated, and accomplished by SWAC,” are as follows:

  • A Strong Workforce Plan Template submitted and approved by the CCC Chancellor’s office,

  • the hiring of an Associate Dean of CTE for Workforce Development,

  • increasing the CTE secretary’s hours from an 11-month to a 12-month position, and

  • creating a process for programs to solicit requests for equipment, supplies, and technology, to comply with Strong Workforce metrics as determined by industry standards.

The committee has solicited new program development ideas for inclusion in last year’s Program Review process, and established an annual budget for disbursement of funds from the State. New programs emerged from CSIT, Nursing, Design, Media Arts and Technologies, Biotechnology, and the Career Center.

This year’s activities have been in response to the State Chancellor’s office changing requirements for the initiative. New strategies include:

  • developing 4-year funding templates for Strong Workforce planning,

  • conducting professional development and strategic planning activities for CTE faculty,

  • collaboration between CTE deans and faculty as they develop their requests for funding

In addition, the committee has been screening criteria for application proposals, tracking progress on SWP allocations, evaluating and ranking the proposals for funding, entering them into the Chancellor’s office template, and tracking the progress for adjustments to the plan.


SWP funds may be requested for a broad range of purposes and are usually allocated depending on the current strengths or weaknesses of specific programs and/or those of the institution. Standards and accountability for qualifying to receive funding are clear. Programs must meet stringent curricular criteria and industry demands, and employment opportunities must exist. The institution must do its best to track student outcomes, successful completion of courses of study, and gainful employment, during or after degree or certificate completion.


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The initiative emphasizes utilizing employment data from sources such as the E.D.D. to determine the business and industry needs of the community the institution serves. There is money to address the gaps in current programs where practical, or to create new programs to address demand areas an institution may not serve.

There is also emphasis on ensuring students are being trained for an industry in which they will be able to earn a “living wage.” Internships, work co-op, and other ways of building bridges with industry are highly encouraged, as is a more proactive approach, including a closer relationship with your program’s advisory board.

MiraCosta has aligned itself with the requirements and is well on the way to utilizing this initiative to garner the best possible benefit for the CTE students we serve and the MiraCosta community. If you have questions, if you would like more detail on the specifics, or you want to know how this impacts your program, here is a list of our colleagues on SWAC:

  • Al Taccone, Dean, School of Career and Technical Education and Workforce Development

  • Zhenya Lindstrom, Associate Dean, Career and Technical Education

  • Nikki Schaper, Dean, Behavioral Sciences, History and Adult Education

  • Chris Hill, Dean, Research, Planning and Institutional Effectiveness or Designee

  • Jill Malone, Instructor and Chair, Media Arts and Technologies

  • Penny Skemp, Instructor and Chair, Child Development

  • Paul Clarke, Instructor and Chair, Design

  • Sue Simpson, Instructor, Nursing

  • Donna Davis, Faculty Director, Career Center and Services

  • Steve Isachsen, Instructor and Chair, Computer Studies and Information Technology

  • Robbi Rosen, Career Counselor

  • Dan Siegel, Instructor, Music

  • Wendy Horton, Counselor


All Articles in the May 2017 Newsletter:

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