Leading the LARC: Dr. Narineh Makijan
Pam Sornson, JD
The leader of the newly minted Los Angeles Regional Consortium (LARC) couldn’t be more excited to get to work. In her 20-year career in student counseling and career & technical education programs, Dr. Narineh Makijan has focused on connecting learners at all levels to jobs and employment in the LA County area. Her new role as PCC’s Assistant Vice President and Regional Chair of the LARC will allow her to continue that work on a scale she had never before considered.
Parsing the LARC
The LARC itself poses an immense challenge and an equally immense opportunity. The strategy behind its formation is to build a collaboration among the County’s 19 community colleges that leverages existing and emerging workforce development (WFD) resources to build the County’s post-COVID economy. The process it will follow to achieve that end, however, is decidedly unclear.
Until the LARC’s creation, there had been no genuinely collaborative discussions around building WFD resources among the schools. Each pursued its WFD ends as those related most closely to the needs of its local constituents. Consequently, the schools now are in differing stages of their WFD evolution, with some being further along than others. Just starting the collaboration conversation will require an intense assessment of the resources currently in existence at each college and a further evaluation of how those resources tie together, if at all.
Fortunately for Dr. Makijan, and as a wise precondition to receiving LARC funding, the State required the development of a well-defined governance structure and the articulation of principles that would guide its efforts.
LARC’s Governance Structure
A multitude of leaders from each LA County college have roles to play somewhere within the LARC organization:
Each of the school’s CEOs sits on the CEO Board, which is presided over by a chancellor.
A Workforce Council oversees the effort of four goal-oriented workgroups: Career Pathways, Student Employment, Work-based Learning, and Employer Training.
Deans, faculty, ‘career service talents,’ employers, and other college leaders populate each workgroup, which then informs the Council on developments, innovations, progress, etc.
An Innovation Council populated by workgroup chairs will explore new opportunities to do better work, leverage resources and funding, and lay a stronger foundation for future WFD success.
At all levels, comprehensive support based on regionally relevant data will keep LARC participants abreast of economic and community realities.
Further, in addition to its focus on LA County’s immense industrial complex, the LARC will also lay a foundation for career education in the five emerging ‘economies’ that blossomed through the pandemic and will continue to blossom as it evolves:
environmental opportunities, and
The work done within these economies overlays many, if not most, current and future occupations and will take on more significance as industries evolve.
LARC’s Fundamental Principles
Having an articulated slate of principles, expectations, and procedures helps to keep all participants organized around a common strategy:
Principles Guiding Inputs …
Outcomes for students, the schools, the community, and the economy are more likely to be beneficial and successful when achieved through activities that are:
consistent across the platform,
undertaken with demonstrated transparency,
pursued through collaborative practices, and
executed within a culture of trust.
Additionally, anticipated outputs (as opposed to outcomes) must also achieve a standard of quality for every project to succeed. Participants must assure their (and their project’s) efforts are based on or provide:
a high degree of accountability,
a high standard of performance,
increased access by learners to appropriate
services and support,
the removal of barriers and
a clear demonstration of their full compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.
The overarching goals of these principles are to:
increase the effectiveness of the entity as a whole
improve the coordination of resources across the county
improve clarity among members regarding activities, inputs, outputs, and outcomes,
improve communications across the entity and its collegiate membership, and
provide greater visibility by the State into the consumption of its resources and the values that are produced as a result.
This comprehensive level of performance expectations sets a high bar for all LARC participants and lays a foundation for excellent work in the future.
LARC’s Industrial Community
Adding to the complexity of LARC’s and Makijan’s mission is the complexity of LA’s industrial complex:
The County is the largest in the nation, with a population of over 10 million people.
Eighty-eight individual cities lie within its borders.
It is home to almost a quarter-million businesses (244,000) that do business in
Over a dozen major industries, each of which includes an additional constellation of smaller sub-industries and supply chains.
Makijan and her LARC cohorts will be working closely with leaders in all these industries to encourage the cooperation and collaboration needed to general a well-employed laborforce.
Further, in preparation for its work, the LARC also commissioned an analysis of the County’s labor market needs and a list of the jobs that are or will be in top demand over the coming decade. The LARC will use these and emerging data to direct its WFD efforts to ensure the County’s CC students are trained and then employed in these jobs of the future.
As she gets started, Dr. Makijan is initially working through the transition from the LAOCRC to the LARC to ensure LARC documentation and procedures are in place as quickly as possible. She’s also getting to know her new LARC colleagues at schools across the County while settling into her role as an AVP at PCC. And she’s carefully building the team that will work with her to assure that the LARC meets the standards set out by its principles and guidelines.
Looking forward, Makijan says she “wants to be intentional about student outcomes, so I’ll use that as my guidepost. I also want my office to bridge the gap between education and industry, so I’ll look for barriers to those relationships.” Not least, in her role as a resource coordinator, Makijan’s ultimate goal is to keep schools on track with the LARC’s initiatives so that student outcomes improve. As big as this job is, it allows her to continue pursuing the goal she’s been following her entire career.
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