PCC’s Six Career Communities and California’s EWD Revolution
This is Part One of a two-part overview detailing how PCC’s six Career Communities tie into its regional industries and businesses. Part Two discusses the support systems PCC provides to ensure its students can thrive in both their education and their future careers.
Rethinking Career Options After COVID-19
For many people these days, the future is foggy. The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced them to work from home, and they’re finding that the at-home mandate isn’t to their liking. Others may have lost their job altogether and wonder where and when they will find their next one.
The reality is that the virus and its impact on jobs and the economy have given people the time to think about not just what they can do to earn their living, but also what they want to do once it’s over and the world gets back to ‘normal.’ The pandemic is providing a departure from our culture’s ‘business as usual’ mentality and allowing people to truly ponder their future. Many are taking the time to consider possible changes they might make that are more in line with who they want to be. And for a significant number, the answer to their soul-searching inquiry is to pursue advanced educational goals.
Fortunately, the State of California is way ahead on that thought process.
Strategizing the Future of the State …
In 2012, at one of its Economic Summits, the State of California convened to evaluate and strategize a revision of its economy. That gathering resulted in two public policy principles that are now playing a significant role in the work of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) and its 116 community colleges:
Rethink the overall monolithic economy as one of many regional economies, and build each one per its individual assets, and
Expand the career and technical education options (CTE) in each regional economy to meet its respective industries’ needs.
For the State, revisioning means a realignment of state-based resources to enhance the best economic growth opportunities as those arise in each region. For the local and regional community colleges, the revisioning means redirecting school resources towards teaching and training to the requirements of their local business and industrial communities.
… and of Pasadena City College
For PCC, the revisioning means developing relationships with its corporate neighbors and engaging them in the process of building a more robust, more relevant workforce. It also means ensuring its students have the training and skills needed to find work in those businesses. To do that, PCC is implementing California’s Guided Pathways strategy to assist every student enter college, attain the education and credentials they seek, and graduate into successful and fulfilling careers.
The Business Needs Survey
In 2018, PCC conducted a ‘Business Needs Assessment‘ survey, seeking direct inputs from the companies and employers who needed to workers that PCC would train. The assessment had three goals:
To identify employment trends and anticipated industry growth, including the skill requirements for entry-level jobs within those sectors;
To assess the business community’s interest in providing on-the-job training and internships opportunities for PCC students, and
To assess the business community’s perception of PCC, and its willingness to join the jobs-creation effort as PCC’s partners.
The survey focused on businesses in Pasadena’s ‘primary industrial sectors,’ which offer the most promise for future growth and development.
The Business Needs Assessment
That assessment provided all kinds of interesting insights:
Of the 112 company respondents, over 40 were information technology (IT) businesses. This strong response indicates that technology skills are in high demand AND that those skills are deployable in more than one industrial sector.
Business leaders were also optimistic about business growth possibilities, with almost 80% expecting gains in the near term of five years, and 70% expecting gains to continue through the next ten years.
Approximately 48% of respondents reported they would need workers with at least some advanced education beyond high-school. Of these, almost half were looking for Associates Degrees, while the others required some form of certification or advanced training that wasn’t available in high school but was necessary to qualify for the work.
Perhaps most optimistically, over 60% would be available for job shadowing, and most of those would also be available for internships. These forms of training provide the on-the-job skills needed that respond to the ‘more-than-high-school-but-less-than a degree’ demands.
Overall, the survey provided a vast wealth of information that PCC has used to streamline and guide its program-based planning and investments.
(Note that PCC conducted the study before COVID-19, so it may not be as accurate now as it was then. However, it does reflect the attitudes of business leaders; assuming many or most of those businesses were not lost to the pandemic, those attitudes were based on known business and economic realities that should rebound in some form as the epidemic recedes.)
Providing an Optimal Learning Platform
PCC’s six Career Communities offer a wide variety of occupational and career options, so each PCC student can choose to pursue the one that best suits their aspirations and goals. Each career community title clarifies its course offerings, and identifies the industries driving the demand for those programs. Some training straddles multiple sectors, such as IT courses, while other programs are narrowly designed to meet the needs of specific specialties, such as dental hygienics.
The Arts, Communication & Design Career Community
LA’s vast entertainment industry offers many enticing career options, including creative pursuits like multimedia arts and animation, directing and producing, and film and video engineering and editing. Similar design-based occupation options include architecture and industrial engineering, speech-language pathologies, urban planning, and Internet-related design and development.
The Business & Industry Career Community
This Career Community covers a vast array of subject matters and career options, from accounting and auditing to hospitality management and paralegal studies. PCC designed these programs to respond to the various training levels sought by its students, from relatively simple on-the-job skills through to both Associate Degrees and Four-Year Transfer Degrees. The umbrella covers justice administration, automotives, business management, business information technology, electrical tech, culinary arts, and fire technologies.
The Health Sciences & Wellness Career Community
LA’s health and wellness industries continue to grow, and PCC course offerings reflect that demand. Students can train to become physician assistants and dental hygienists, health educators, nursing specialists, and radiology technologists.
The Liberal Arts Career Community
These career options span every interest from audiology to writing, with several education-based training programs sprinkled in. Here, second language learners find the training they need to pursue higher education opportunities in foreign languages and linguistics.
The Social & Behavioral Sciences Career Community
Students interested in these subjects are often caring and compassionate individuals who want to help others. Career options cover a wide variety of education-related occupations (administrators, child-care specialists, school counselors, etc.), and programs in social work, mental health therapies, and human resource services.
Science, technology, engineering, and math are the core sciences driving this Career Community. Students can learn the skills needed for many different industries in these programs, including forensic investigations; information systems security, analysis & statistics; environmental science concepts, and surveying and mapping technologies. Since IT employment accounts for 13% of California’s gross economy, it makes sense that PCC would adopt IT education as one of the pillars of its STEM career college.
After the Pandemic – PCC?
Thousands of displaced workers are wondering what their future holds and what their next steps should be. Pasadena City College provides both answers and solutions to those concerns. It offers a selection of programs that appeal to a broad stratum of learners, as well as the coursework and hands-on-learning they need to find a job.
Everyone whose job is affected by the COVID-19 concern (or who is just wondering what else they might do with their time) should take the opportunity to explore further career options that are a better match for their skills and abilities and that may lead them to the work that satisfies their personal ambitions and goals.