EDGE Policy Agenda

The California EDGE Coalition’s new policy agenda – Maintaining California’s EDGE: A Policy Agenda for Shared Prosperity – builds on past efforts of policymakers and practitioners to respond to the needs of learners and employers. Our goal is to strengthen, improve, and broaden the lens of traditional education and training to address the pace and breadth of change in our communities and in the labor market.

Support Career Education

California has historically undervalued career education and has not viewed it as integral to the core mission of postsecondary education, resulting in unpredictable and insufficient funding for these programs.

Our Vision

Develop a high-quality and well-funded career education system in California that is responsive to industry needs, and eliminate the artificial divisions between career and academic education.

Recommendations

  1. Ensure that funding streams for career education are adequate, reliable, and coordinated and that policy implementation takes into account the special needs and requirements of career education programs.
  2. Improve processes to allow postsecondary education programs to respond to rapidly changing labor markets.
  3. Grow the pool of qualified career education instructors both at the secondary and postsecondary levels by addressing career education faculty recruitment and hiring practices, including options that would allow highly skilled industry professionals into career education instructional programs.
  4. Expand access, availability, and the quality of online courses so that working adults and others who need more flexible scheduling can obtain workforce skills and college credits.
  5. Allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in high-demand career-education fields where limited capacity exists at four-year institutions.

Link Career Education and Workforce Training Programs to Create Pathways to Middle-Class Jobs

Exit and entry points both within and across systems are frequently misaligned, K-12 career technical education courses are rarely articulated to community college pathways, lower-level community college courses often do not count toward higher-level credentials and degrees, and institutional incentives rarely favor or compel collaboration. This results in educational segments that are often competitive rather than collaborative.

Our Vision

Provide all Californians pathways to middle-class jobs by aligning today’s disjointed education and job-training programs to create a coherent system of skill development that is responsive to needs of the California economy. Move from program thinking to system thinking and from institution-focused programs to learner-centered ones.

Recommendations

  1. Better align career technical education curricula and pathways from high school to community colleges, from short-term to long-term certificate, credential, and degree programs, and between non-credit and credit programs.
  2. Embed existing industry and professional certifications into CTE programs
  3. Consolidate and leverage federal and state adult education funding sources
  4. Integrate basic skills and career preparation education by focusing developmental and adult education, and WIOA funding, on co-requisite, contextual, and integrated education and training programs
  5. Develop pathways with clear program roadmaps

Eliminate Barriers and Expand Supports for Learner Access, Progress, and Success, Especially for Traditionally Underserved Populations

The majority of community college students also face significant educational barriers, despite an important and growing movement within the colleges to address this problem

Our Vision

Dramatically improve student success rates, especially among traditionally underserved Californians, while also expanding access to high-quality education and training programs and a broad range of support services.

Recommendations

  1. Set meaningful, ambitious goals for improving certificate, degree, and credential outcomes and closing equity gaps
  2. Provide a debt-free pathway for students with the greatest financial need to attend community college by increasing the number of Cal Grant awards
  3. Lower remedial education barriers by using multiple measures for student placement
  4. Improve navigational assistance to K-12, adult school, and community college students
  5. Provide students with access to childcare, mental health services, and other integrated support programs

Provide Low-Skilled Working Californians Access to Skills Upgrade Training and Other Educational Opportunities

Providing low-skilled workers with education and training reaps benefits to the individual, the family, the community and thousands of California businesses.

Our Vision

Provide working Californians, particularly low-skilled workers, access to skills upgrade training and other educational opportunities by redesigning programs, expanding workplace learning, and building partnerships with business and industry to develop training tailored to their needs.

Recommendations

  1. Expand job-focused basic skills training by conducting ESL programs at the workplace
  2. Invest in programs that are competency-oriented and workplace-based
  3. Support accelerated learning for students by redesigning two-year programs into shorter-term certificates
  4. Create processes for recognizing and validating skills learned in other venues
  5. Make legislative and administrative changes to allow ETP funds to better serve low-skilled, low-wage workers
  6. Develop new strategies for adults to receive a high-school equivalent diploma
  7. Create an infrastructure of community partnerships to recruit, prepare, and support low income Californians’ access to, and completion of, skills education and training
  8. Provide easily accessible and better consumer information about available jobs and their education and training requirements, costs, and outcomes

Bring Disconnected Adults and Youth Back into Education or Training and into the Labor Market

In addition to the Californians who are working but have limited prospects, there are a great many who are disconnected from both school and work.

Our Vision

Ensure that Californians disconnected from school and work have opportunities for high quality education and training and pathways to good jobs.

Recommendations

  1. Engage organizations representing disconnected populations in program design and supports needed to serve disconnected populations
  2. Establish a statewide dropout recovery initiative
  3. Develop, replicate, and scale evidence-based dropout-recovery programs
  4. Build close collaboration across education, workforce, and criminal justice silos
  5. Prioritize and provide incentives for public/private partnerships that offer paid work experience
  6. Scale up the skill-building component of the Cal Fresh programs so that participants can receive education and training resources
  7. Provide work-based learning opportunities, including earn and learn programs, for Californians disconnected from school and work

Invest in Regional Workforce Strategies to Build Prosperous Communities and Competitive Industries

California is a nation-state with multiple regional economies. To be effective, workforce education and training institutions must work in concert with business, labor, and community organizations to be responsive to the different labor market needs of each region of the state.

Our Vision

Strengthen California’s regions with an ongoing commitment to an agenda of economic growth based on the skill base of all its residents.

Recommendations

  1. Create viable vehicles for regional business, education, workforce, and community partners to understand current and future skill needs.
  2. Organize multiple regional infrastructures into multi-stakeholder, multi-purpose consortia
  3. Leverage all available resources to support these regional structures
  4. Develop rational divisions of labor among education, training, workforce, community-based, and other organizations

Develop a Shared Vision, Measurable Goals, and Longitudinal Data to Monitor the Progress of California’s Education and Training Systems

California does not have a shared vision of what we want our postsecondary education and training systems to achieve or a way of understanding educational progress and outcomes across institutions and over time to inform policymaking, close equity gaps, and improve educational outcomes for all.

Our Vision

Articulate a clear vision for California’s future and set measurable goals for achieving that vision. Invest in an integrated, longitudinal infrastructure across education and training institutions and programs that will allow educators, policymakers, and the public to make informed decisions and track progress toward our goals.

Recommendations

  1. Develop state outcome and equity goals for California’s education and workforce development systems
  2. Create a unique student identifier for use across institutions and programs
  3. Develop and fully fund an integrated longitudinal data system that can match data across systems, institutions, and programs
  4. Improve access to data for the public, civic leaders, policymakers, and researchers
  5. Support regions in being able to develop data infrastructures
  6. Use data to inform decision making and improve program and institutional effectiveness

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