A California Chamber of Commerce-supported education bill aiming to increase the pool of skilled workers unanimously passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee this week.
AB 669 (Berman; D-Palo Alto) extends the Economic and Workforce Development (EWD) program within the California Community College system, ensuring that the program continues to provide grants to help develop industry-aligned curriculum, provide training and work-based learning opportunities and connect colleges with businesses, thereby creating a skilled workforce aligned with the needs of industry in California, especially in subjects in highest demand. Without legislation, the program is set to expire in 2018.
The EWD program was created to advance California’s economic growth and global competitiveness by developing high-quality education and services focusing on continuous workforce improvement, technology deployment, and business development, consistent with the current needs of the state’s regional economies. A 2016 report by the Chancellor’s Office highlighted the program’s achievements thus far, including training of almost 60,000 individuals and service to more than 11,000 businesses. Extending the program will assist in furthering such success.
The EWD program funds both long-term and short-term activities in strategic priority areas, including advanced transportation, biotechnology, environmental technologies, health care delivery, and international trade. Extending the program will help ensure that students continue to have access to programs targeted toward employable career paths and that employers have access to a growing pool of qualified workers trained in subject areas in highest demand.
AB 669 unanimously passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee, 13-0, on April 18.
Ayes: Arambula (D-Kingsburg), Baker (R-San Ramon), Bloom (D-Santa Monica), Chávez (R-Oceanside), Choi (R-Irvine), Irwin (D-Thousand Oaks), Kiley (R-Granite Bay), Levine (D-San Rafael), Low (D-Campbell), Medina (D-Riverside), Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton), Santiago (D-Los Angeles), Weber (D-San Diego).
The bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee; no hearing date has been set.