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Transcript- Episode 108: The Synergy of Learning & Earning: A New Vision for Workforce Education Episode 108

Dec 5, 2023


Francisco (00:00):

We have to just be mindful who benefits from this. And it can't simply be seen as something to increase our profit margins, but indeed, something as a tool to increase the human condition. And education has its place and its role to indeed do that, because through education, we believe it puts people on the pathway to prosperity.

Christina (00:21):

The workforce landscape is rapidly changing, and educators and their institutions need to keep up. Preparing students before they enter the workforce to make our communities and businesses stronger is at the core of getting an education.

Christina (00:33):

But we need to understand how to change and adjust so that we can begin to project where things are headed before we even get there. So, how do we begin to predict the future?

Salvatrice (00:46):

Hi, I'm Salvatrice Cummo, Vice President of Economic and Workforce Development at Pasadena City College, and host of this podcast.

Christina (00:54):

And I'm Christina Barsi, producer and co-host of this podcast.

Salvatrice (00:58):

And we are starting the conversation about the future of work. We'll explore topics like how education can partner with industry, how to be more equitable, and how to attain one of our highest goals: more internships and PCC students in the workforce.

Salvatrice (01:12):

We at Pasadena City College want to lead the charge in closing the gap between what our students are learning, and what the demands of the workforce will be once they enter. This is a conversation that impacts all of us; you, the employers, the policymakers, the educational institutions, and the community as a whole.

Christina (01:32):

We believe change happens when we work together, and it all starts with having a conversation. I'm Christina Barsi.

Salvatrice (01:40):

And I'm Salvatrice Cummo. And this is the Future of Work.

Salvatrice (01:45):

This panel is called Innovation in Driving Student Focus System Change. Joined with me here today are a few of my closest friends of Pasadena College, all of whom are doing exciting work in either infrastructure sector or higher education.

Salvatrice (01:59):

And definitely, all of them are playing a significant role in developing pathways of success for students and workers to high-demand occupations. Please help me welcome our second round of panelists. Panelists come on up.

Salvatrice (02:17):

As they take their seats, for our panel discussion, we are going to be getting a little more granular on what it takes to align industry needs and workforce programs, and steps we can take to improve our strategies and tactics for the benefit of students and the workers we serve.

Salvatrice (02:35):

And before we get started, I think it might be a good idea that we get everyone to know who you are. So, if you can each please share your name, title, a little bit about your organization for our audience.

Dennis (02:48):

Good morning, I think still. My name is Dennis Rodriguez. I am happy to be here. I work for a firm called Black & Veatch, which is widely known as an engineering firm. We also do construction. In fact, last year, I think from a business activity perspective, we surpassed the amount of construction we do versus engineering. So, last year, was the first time that we actually did more construction of infrastructure work.

Dennis (03:10):

We focus on three big sections of infrastructure: so, telecommunication, power, and water, are the three sectors that we kind of focus on. I lead up our business development for design build for our water sector. So, happy to be here and happy to kind of talk about the private sector perspective.

Salvatrice (03:26):

Thank you, Dennis.

Kelly (03:27):

Hi, good morning, everyone. I'm Kelly Mackey and I'm the State Director of Strategic Partnerships with the Apprenticeship and Workforce Innovation Unit. This is a relatively new unit that was established about five years ago as a part of the division that I work for, the division of apprenticeship standards.

Kelly (03:44):

It was designed with a goal of expanding the footprint of registered apprenticeship to include what we call non-traditional sectors or new and modern sectors. I'm going to talk about that today. I'm privileged to work alongside a great team, some of whom are in the audience today.

Kelly (04:02):

They are consultants that provide end-to-end service in helping stakeholders put together modern apprenticeship programs. I was excited to see Ernesto come. If you feel like you're getting a hard sell today on registered apprenticeship, there's a good reason for that. It is the gold standard model for work-based learning.

Kelly (04:22):

And I'm really excited to share with you about how these new modern apprenticeships are really building on the momentum that has been optimized by the building and construction industry for a better part of a century, and how you can get involved and help contribute to your community more broadly.

Nicole (04:41):

I'm Nicole Feenstra, I'm the CEO and founder of the DNA Agency. And we are a digital agency that is very focused on workforce development. And I think the reason I'm here is because we have had a lot of experience in workforce development, specifically in residential construction.

Nicole (04:56):

And some of the findings we have are probably parallel to the same situations that we would see in infrastructure. So, we focus very much on the message that people hear — we've talked a lot today about programs and systems and opportunities. And what we see is that there's a gap between the opportunities and people seeing it.

Nicole (05:19):

And where does digital media come in to make sure that they see it? So, we know historically, advertising takes 21 times for somebody to see something before they'll do something. So, you could have an amazing program, and nobody knows about it.

Nicole (05:33):

And so, that's where we're finding stories, the messages that Mayor Gorder talked about with why he became what he became and his interest, and so those are the things that we're really interested in, are the human stories. We like to say that we focus on life development as opposed to workforce development.

Francisco (05:50):

Well, good morning, everybody. Francisco Rodriguez, and if you grab my guitar, sing a little song. I'm not a singer, I'm the chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. Happy to be here. Thank you, Dr. Cummo, Dr. Gomez for the very kind invitation.

Francisco (06:04):

Wanted to make sure that I recognized my boss, member of the board of trustees for LAC city trustee, Andrew Hoffman, who's here. Thank you for joining us. I know you're wearing your Glendale hat today, but you're wearing multiple hats also as the President of California Community College Trustees. So, thank you for being here.

Francisco (06:20):

We're a two-year college. We're one of 73 community college districts in the state of California. And we are nine of the 116 community colleges that serves about 200,000 students on an annual basis through our nine colleges in LA County.

Francisco (06:35):

We touch about 36 cities and about 900 or so square miles and offer degrees and certificates in a couple thousand areas. So, it's a very large comprehensive urban and suburban community college. And PCC is our sister college, as well as many of others of you who are here representing other of our schools who make up LA County.

Francisco (06:55):

LA County has 19 two-year colleges serving hundreds of thousands of students. So, we are in some cases, sometimes hiding in plain sight. But today, we shift that narrative to move and pivot community colleges to the center workforce development. So, we're very happy to be here.

Salvatrice (07:10):

Thank you. Thank you very much. In fact, since you were the last, I'm going to be the first to ask you this question.

Salvatrice (07:15):

Let's just start here, Chancellor Rodriguez, Los Angeles Community College District, one of the largest, as you mentioned in the nation, serving a diverse student population across many campuses, not just one. Each one of your campuses are incredibly diverse.

Salvatrice (07:30):

Given this vastness, what steps have been taken to create a culture within LACCD to drive and scale student-focused innovations across the district, but mostly, to ensure consistent and impactful experiences for our students?

Francisco (07:45):

Yes, thank you for kicking us off with this question. Culture is everything. You've heard that it eats strategy for lunch. True, culture is everything. So, at LACCD, I'm going to just give you a little bit of a composite. And none of these strategies or attempts or work that we do is shocking, or even in some cases, remarkable.

Francisco (08:03):

The difference is that we do all these things together. We do all these things in synergy. We do all these things sometimes in conflict with one another, knowing that some of the outcomes may not be exactly what we want, but we pursue it anyway. So, that's a little bit of our secret sauce.

Francisco (08:19):

So, I'll just give you nine kind of quick things. First of all, leadership matters. It matters who's in charge. It sets the tone for the organization. Our board of trustees empower their chancellor, I empower our college presidents and so on and so forth. And then resource them, have very clear goals and visions about what we'd like to do.

Francisco (08:37):

So, leadership matters through our college presidents, to our academic senates, to the unions that we work with, to our incredible classified and professional staff — who we hire matters. We try to get folks who are expert in their craft, but also are comfort with their ambiguity, comfort with the ambiguity of the work itself. We may have to make very precise decisions with imprecise information, and not everyone can do that. So, that's the type of people that we look for.

Francisco (09:04):

Where DEIA is at the center of everything we do, where we're student centric, equity-minded, community-oriented, where we're problem solvers. We want to hire doers. Remember that word "doers?" People will actually do the work; not talk about the work, but actually do it. So, who we hire, leadership matters.

Francisco (09:20):

In fact, we are now hiring in one of our largest full-time faculty 10-year track cores that we've ever had in my 10 years as chancellor. We're hiring 222 10-year track faculty in a variety of areas this academic year. Including non-credit, including CTE, including transfer, the whole gamut — ethnic studies, because we want to invest and front load in the person that has the most interface with our students, and that's the faculty member.

Francisco (09:49):

So, we're going to do that with intention and with trying to hire folks that mirror the rich, vast, wonderful diversity of our students. We've invested in facilities development and infrastructure improvements through Measure CC and Measure LA over the last couple of years that has infused for us close to $8 billion of construction resources that we have.

Francisco (10:11):

We have a 10-year project, labor agreement with the Building and Trades Council. So, building lots of jobs. Tens of thousands of jobs are created with a very strong local hire preference and very strong interest in hiring small, local emerging and disabled veterans of businesses. Over 50% of who we hire is in that particular space. So, we're very, very pleased about that.

Francisco (10:32):

We innovate and develop curriculum, ask our faculty — innovate, innovate, innovate. Now, LACCD, we now offer four baccalaureate of science degrees in workforce education. Four: the Dental Hygiene Program and Avionics at West LA, the new Respiratory Therapy Program at LA Valley College and recently, approved Biomanufacturing Program at LA Mission College.

Francisco (10:55):

So, innovation of faculty. We engage with business and industry to inform the directions and decisions with many of the groups that are responsible here. We partner with our higher education and P12 partners ecosystem. We know that those students will become our students. We don't point the finger, we work together.

Francisco (11:12):

The College Promise Program was one example of how our district said through policy, through legislation, every Californian should deserve and be eligible for two years of tuition-free education. It was our board of trustees who led us in that effort, and we were very happy to get that signed by two different governors, so that now, every California including here, UC California Community Colleges, two years, tuition-free. And that's any program, any particular major.

Francisco (11:37):

And then the last thing I'd mention is that we engage in pretty hard strategic legislative advocacy sponsoring or supporting legislation like the tuition-free education. I just came from the Climate Center Summit over at West Los Angeles College, the only two-year climate center in the state of California.

Francisco (11:53):

We do a lot of work with former justice involved individuals. And just recently, we passed a law and sponsored an author law with Mr. Mike Fung that now allows courses (credit and non-credit) to be taught in language, in native language without the accompanying ESL — that's right. So, now, it's permissive.

Francisco (12:13):

We've got tremendous linguistic communities here in Los Angeles that's value, that's capital wealth, that's linguistic support. So, why not teach courses in native language where some individuals in Los Angeles come with degrees and certificates that we frankly don't recognize in the state.

Francisco (12:31):

So, this way, we're building up human capital. The most important infrastructure that we can build is the human infrastructure for California. And community colleges are well-poised to do that. Education, make no mistake, is the greatest accelerant for economic and social mobility.

Francisco (12:47):

So, the ability to be representing a system, a two-year system that accepts 100% of the graduating class, no one is left behind. Every person who applies is admitted. And we feel very good about that. So, we thank you all for your support.

Salvatrice (13:02):

Excellent, thank you. I love that you mentioned infrastructure and human infrastructure, and what creates that infrastructure is our ability to build the programming, not only that you mentioned at a local regional level, but at a state level as well.

Salvatrice (13:18):

So, I'm going to direct my next question to Kelly about the apprenticeship programs, and how those have (speaking of human infrastructure) building that bridge between education and workforce, especially in industries that require hands-on experience.

Salvatrice (13:33):

That said, what is the state doing around apprenticeship programs to better align with the diverse needs, aspirations and backgrounds of today's students just as Chancellor Rodriguez mentioned?

Kelly (13:44):

Yeah, I talked a little bit about it in my opening introduction. So, we know that today, students want a variety of different options to move into career pathways. And that includes in the area of registered apprenticeship, and these modern inclusive registered apprenticeship programs that I talked about, these sort of new-collar apprenticeships are really a great win-win proposition.

Kelly (14:07):

The resolution that provides opportunities for not only students but employers, and quite frankly, communities. It contributes more broadly to building a thriving, inclusive economy in California. And it's because we're giving students a lot of different options and pathways.

Kelly (14:25):

It's why our governor has so heavily invested in registered apprenticeships, both on the traditional side, including our modern apprenticeships as well, that includes financial investments, it also includes associated policies to create those on-ramps. This is all really designed to help supporting that ecosystem of practitioners that are building these new programs.

Kelly (14:50):

That includes obviously, our employer partners, industry associations, our valued local education agency partners, including the K through 12 system, the community colleges, adult schools, county offices of education, our UCs, CSUs — our longstanding, perhaps probably most intentional partners are community colleges who have been a vital part of registered apprenticeship for a very, very long time.

Kelly (15:16):

But also, there are other types of partnerships. And that's what we're finding with these sort of modern inclusive apprenticeship programs, is that stakeholders need to come together, whether they be NGOs, community-based organizations, technical assistance providers, something that we call regional and sectoral intermediaries who run these apprenticeship programs, that sort of end-to-end programmatic support, outreach, recruitment assessment, mentorship, backend compliance.

Kelly (15:42):

These funding mechanisms that the governor is investing in are helping to support the development and deployment of these programs. They include dollars that are coming from state grants, sector specific targeted strategies, billions of dollars over the last couple of fiscal years, like our secretary talked about, to invest and help prepare the next generation of healthcare workers, climate roles, IT, and cybersecurity. These are really going to help build out these programs.

Kelly (16:12):

We also know that we're seeing a strong infusion from philanthropic organizations who are recognizing that this time-tested model is pure magic. And we are partnering with the Gates Foundation, the Irvine Foundation, the Eli Broad Foundation, Silver Giving, and others who are heavily investing to help compliment some of the public funding that we're seeing coming in, not only from our state, but also from the federal government.

Kelly (16:39):

The U.S. Department of Labor has invested millions of dollars to help these programs be developed and to grow. We know that registered apprenticeship is going to help individuals students who are in our community colleges, CSUs and UCs, and the K through 12 system, find a way to bridge the gap to industry.

Kelly (16:59):

And that's where registered apprenticeship programs come in. There's sort of that glue, if you will, that helps to create that alignment. It's a two-pronged approach of theoretical instruction that comes from the classroom, and then it's complimented by real-time technologically forward competencies that are learned. The truth is that technology in many cases is outpacing the knowledge, skills, and abilities of our workers. And that's where registered apprenticeship can come in and bring that very specific relief to that murky issue.

Kelly (17:31):

We have also always known that internships and training programs can be a mechanism for individuals to learn skills in a work-based learning strategy. The problem with those programs in many cases is that it's denying a large segment of our population from getting involved. And that's largely because internships, for example, are either oftentimes unpaid, or they're compensated through a stipend.

Kelly (18:00):

And that is disproportionately impacting a lot of underserved populations. Individuals, students who have that desire, that aptitude for learning want to move into these types of internships, but in many cases, are forced to work full-time to support themselves and sometimes, their families. And they can't afford to go into these internship programs.

Kelly (18:22):

And so, we're seeing the wealthy and the well-connected, and other people that are taking advantage of these programs. Registered apprenticeship is an on-ramp to those types of solutions. It's why companies like … the partnerships that we've created with Amazon and Tesla, Sony, CVS, Netflix, some of our industry healthcare giants like Kaiser, Dignity Health, and Sutter, IBM, Lockheed Martin, soon Johnson & Johnson at their Irvine campus, our state and local governments — our public sector apprenticeship programs are thriving.

Kelly (18:57):

I'd love to think about how we could explore something here locally in Pasadena. Those are the magic bullet for how we create that bridge and on-ramp for all communities. We have roles that range from registered nurse to audio and visual technicians, IT and cybersecurity specialists, data scientists, insurance brokers, engineers soon will be launching the first of its kind teacher apprenticeship programs to help districts across our state, who are really struggling with this catastrophic teacher shortage.

Kelly (19:35):

So, we're basically building up these opportunities in communities. This disproportionately, again, impacts communities that are poor, high percentage of minorities, and it's so unfair. I'm so excited. So, stay on the lookout for that announcement.

Kelly (19:49):

And then finally, I just want to say about DEI. I have had the privilege of working in apprenticeship for the better part of three decades. I started my career as an apprenticeship consultant, managing a portfolio of about 26 joint labor management programs, good union programs that lead to good-paying jobs.

Kelly (20:09):

And I saw how the model was changing lives, it is magical. And I also know that registered apprenticeship by extension leads to diversity. All of the work we do is through the lens of ensuring that no communities are left behind. 78% of our registered apprenticeship programs consist of people from minority backgrounds. Almost 30% are women.

Kelly (20:34):

I loved hearing Kelly LoBianco talk about her work early on in her career with veterans, almost 7% are veterans. They make great apprentices.

Kelly (20:42):

And finally, I'll say, when we're talking about really infusing the imagination of young people to help them lead to the career of their dreams, it's exciting to think about how our youth apprenticeship unit is going to build on the momentum.

Kelly (20:57):

31% of our registered apprentices are youth, 16 to 24. How's that for ushering in the next generation of qualified workers? I'm super excited to have this conversation today and hopefully, plant a seed in your brain about how this magic model can transform your organization and your community.

Salvatrice (21:18):

Thank you so much, thank you. It led me to really think about the perspective of the private sector. So, my next question, I'm really curious, Dennis, for you, how do you envision industry leaders like yourself and like your firm, really kind of playing that role, that intermediary role about bridging academia and industry, and preparing the next generation of workforce? That not only they have the technical skills, but they're also adaptable as industry changes?

Dennis (21:48):

It's a great question, and it's also interesting to kind of be the business perspective here on the panel. I think from our point of view, we have to kind of keep our finger on the pulse of what's happening from a business perspective in order to essentially stay in business.

Dennis (22:00):

And so, I think what that means is we have to stay up with the trends and we have to kind of see what's happening from a business perspective, we have to stay up with what's happening from an academic perspective. But a lot of times, we also engage with academia to kind of set those trends.

Dennis (22:14):

So, from our perspective, we have a huge need for different training disciplines. A couple years back, we dug into a training discipline for AutoCAD, which is a software design equipment for engineers. And so, long story short, we're headquartered in Kansas City, Kansas. And so, we dug into a training program with a community college district in Kansas.

Dennis (22:33):

And so, it was effective, it brought a whole host of different folks to the company who might not have had exposure to our company. We fill the need in terms of what we have within the company. At the end of the day, we paid for the scholarships as a private enterprise.

Dennis (22:47):

The next time we kind of went through this, more recently, we dug into project control training. And essentially, for this instance, we looked to the federal government for support. Because if you go into these training programs, it is expensive, it's not easy. It's a huge partnership, and it takes a heavy uplift to kind of get these accomplished.

Dennis (23:05):

So, we do this from time to time. We look at this from a business perspective, we look at things that make sense for us to kind of continue to work in effective business fashion.

Dennis (23:15):

We also looked at the H-1B Visa Program. That's another huge element to our success. Somebody mentioned in my company to me recently that we have more of a demand for engineers in this country than we have a supply of recent engineering graduates.

Dennis (23:28):

So, I think that's something for us to track. And I think elements like the H-1B Visa Program can assist with that. So, we look to partner with governments, we look to partner with academia. I've had the pleasure of knowing Dr. Rodriguez for some time now. And long story short, he approached me sometime back about potentially working in a partnership capacity with LA Community College District.

Dennis (23:49):

And so, we kind of talked through it. But I think having, that executive connection, that executive leadership kind of hand-in-hand, business working with academia, that's critical. At the end of the day, business kind of has to keep their feet on the pulse of what's happening, because if they don't do that, I think they're not going to be in business for long. So, that's an important element for us to kind of make sure we've got a pulse of what's happening.

Salvatrice (24:11):

This kind of leads me to think also about who — we talked about how, now we need to talk about how do we recruit through that lens of marketing?

Salvatrice (24:20):

And so, Nicole, I'd like to draw kind of your expertise around the marketing needs and how are we aligning not only the trends that we're seeing, but with academia and industry, and what are we as institutions or as practitioners and expertise in this space, how do we best keep our eye on the prize with that? Like how do we do that well so that we can scale all of these programs that we just talked about?

Nicole (24:45):

That's a great question. We started as a digital ad agency in the building industry. And one of the things that we saw was massive labor shortage. We're missing 400,000 people right now to build homes in the country. And at about seven years, when the boomers all retire, half of the industry is going to be gone. Huge problem.

Nicole (25:01):

So, how do you scale this? How do you fix such a massive problem? And it all comes down to people. And the building industry is known for focusing on the sticks and the bricks. And human capital is not a stick or brick. It is inspired and it's brought through a journey and it's motivated.

Nicole (25:20):

And so, one of the things — I'm going to use two stories. One from government and one from education to sort of illustrate how we see the challenge and the opportunity. We were working with a program in Iowa that was called Build My Future. It's a one-day event, 5,600 kids come onto the Iowa State fairgrounds, 55 different school districts, it's a huge day.

Nicole (25:41):

Big opportunity, all sorts of trades: crane operating, plumbing, welding, electrical, the whole thing. And I said, how are you marketing to them after? What are you doing? You've got these kids so excited. What are you doing? And they said nothing I said, "Well, we should fix that." They're like, "We should."

Nicole (25:59):

So, we created a landing page and we said, "Why don't we focus on summer jobs, internships and opportunities? Why don't we give them something specific to do? They've gotten excited, now let's give them something to do." So, we ran a digital media campaign focusing in geographically where they were, all the kids that were there, we can retarget them. If you've ever had shoes follow you from Amazon or Nordstrom, that's retargeting.

Nicole (26:21):

And so, we drove and we said, why don't we focus on a Zoom info session? We've seen this work with education where we can drive them to meet teachers, give them a personal engagement with a teacher. And they said, "Oh, these kids aren't going to do Zoom sessions." I said, "well, let's try it." They said, "Okay."

Nicole (26:37):

So, we drove 50 kids. In one month, we had 50 kids that all wanted jobs, they were ready. And think about this; you're a kid, you actually sign up for something, you show up, you get on a Zoom session, these are like passionate kids. And they didn't have any place to send them. There was a workforce development team and they had nobody to hold their hand or drive them to an internship. So, there's a gap.

Nicole (27:06):

And so, we look at how do we fill those gaps? How do we tell a story that's accessible that means something to them emotionally. They feel something: “I like doing this plumbing. I like figuring out a piece of equipment. I never knew I'd like to shimmy up a pole.”

Nicole (27:20):

You get into the things that they really will like. And in storytelling, you think about a playable action. And a playable action is something you can both feel and do. So, we think about messages about not just a job or a career or a lifelong learning — these big ideas, but like I don't know, “I like figuring out how electricity works, or I like to play with tools, or I like sparks and flames.”

Nicole (27:44):

So, you really focus on these things that they can feel, and then you try and create a story that keeps them involved. So, we had a gap in that funnel with the workforce development. There was a drop off. Frankly, the workforce development page was really hard to read and really not interesting, and really kind of a big drop off.

Nicole (28:04):

And so, we look at how do we humanize that journey and try and get them ... digital isn't everything. It has to drive to people. So, we really have to have that container where we have project managers, or people or case managers who are there to hold their hand and take them the next step.

Nicole (28:20):

And so, that's what we see, is there's challenges, but there's opportunities. We saw another situation with education working up with Sierra College up in ... actually, we're working with Sierra in a lot of the north, far north community colleges. And these kids are interested, but the registration for community colleges — and I realize I'm at a community college ...

Nicole (28:39):

I will just say it takes a PhD to go through it. And one of the kids said to one of the teachers, "I would not have done this. I would not have registered if you had not walked me through this." And that's a problem. We are all about how do you create simple interfaces that makes it as easy to buy education? And even if it's free as it is to buy something late night on Instagram, because we know that's easy. So, those are the things that we focus on.

Nicole (29:11):

Did that answer your question?

Salvatrice (29:13):

It sure did, it sure did. And it also provoked me to think about this next question that I have for all of you, really, along the same thread of technology and digital, because it's both a gift and a curse. And it's that finding that synergy between the two, that makes it pretty magical.

Salvatrice (29:30):

So, thinking about students, thinking about student-focused success, how do you see the role of technology evolving in the next five years to further amplify, and dare I say, even complicate student focus initiatives?

Kelly (29:46):

Yeah. We just developed last year the first artificial intelligence registered apprenticeship program, that the thing we recognized was that AI has a far reaching application. It literally touches every sector. And I think when you're thinking about jobs of the future, and how we innovate, and we don't want to thwart that progress, we want to make sure that we're doing it with integrity.

Kelly (30:10):

As many of you I'm sure are aware, we've just followed what's happened in the entertainment industry. And I think part of that is we want to make sure that our state is competing and able to turn out this next generation of roles that are going to require a really sophisticated awareness and understanding and expertise in technology.

Kelly (30:32):

And we want to educate our young people about those jobs of the future, but we also want to make sure that we're not supplanting and not exchanging that one for one ratio. So, for every new job that is created and we're losing one job, we want to make sure that we're backfilling on the backend.

Kelly (30:49):

And I know that's a priority of the governors, it's a priority of our labor secretary. And it's why we sought to become now the second state to develop an artificial intelligence apprenticeship program. And technology is touching us in ways that we could have never imagined. And it's certainly impacting workforce.

Dennis (31:09):

I'll just mention real quick, from an engineering perspective, I think artificial intelligence is extremely fascinating. I mean, if you think about what kind of skill sets you need from an engineering perspective, it's basically a hard skill.

Dennis (31:20):

So, in essence, you could potentially look at that in the future and say artificial intelligence could kind of leak into that and kind of help develop that hard skill, and essentially, use AI to help craft and design components and infrastructure. That's all fine.

Dennis (31:35):

I think on the front side of it, you still need the human interface to set up the artificial intelligence and kind of put it in the direction and perspective that it needs to be. On the backend, you also have to have quality control. And the quality control is really what's the output of this system and how does that look?

Dennis (31:52):

I say all that, but I think the most critical thing that we also need to couple in with this and tell especially students, is that soft skills are a huge part of this as well. So, as much as we talk about hard scale development and artificial intelligence, kind of supplanting hard skills, soft skills are at an all-time critical high in terms of being needed.

Dennis (32:11):

Because you've got to have the ability to communicate, you've got to be in a room with folks and kind of make your message and make sure you know that you get your point across. You've got to influence people, you've got to be persuasive at times.

Dennis (32:23):

And none of that, as far as we've seen, is something that comes from the AI kind of realm at this point. So, I think there's a hard skill component, there's a soft skill aspect, but I think the soft skill aspect is going to continue in terms of being in high demand.

Nicole (32:38):

I can speak about it for construction. There's AI and then there's technology. I mean, there's a lot more offsite construction that's happening involving robotics. So, if somebody said, "I don't necessarily want to swing a hammer, but I want to work with robots, I want to work with technology," you could still be in the building industry working in technology because you're going to see more offsite construction because of the labor shortage.

Nicole (33:00):

So, I think there's a huge opportunity there. And to Dennis's point, the robots aren't going to take over. If you've ever dealt with ChatGPT, it's a long way, but you do need a human to oversee the robot. You need the human component to drive that and have the vision. And then seeing that opportunity as not something to be afraid of, but is something that can help with the labor shortage.

Nicole (33:22):

I mean, frankly, there's no way we're going to fix it fast enough just by human capital. I mean, I would love to say the digital advertising could do it, but you're going to have to augment it a little bit with technology. So, that's where we see the opportunity.

Francisco (33:35):

And for higher education, it's here, it's here to stay. We're trying to find better ways to not just understand, but to integrate so that it could improve teaching and learning. On the good side, it could be a bridge, it could provide additional resources, additional support, in language support, demystify what can be a very complicated higher education going process or training process.

Francisco (33:55):

So, the benefits are indeed vast. If we put and continue to always understand that these need to be student-centric, equity-minded, and as a tool, to in fact, a bridge of learning and teaching. On the downside, like tremendous inventions and activities that go on in humankind, the internet for example, it could be the great sort of collaborator, emancipator, or it could be the great activity that actually exacerbates the disproportionate impacts that already exist amongst communities that don't have connection to technology.

Francisco (34:28):

Communities that are not insured, communities that are unhoused, communities that remain hungry, communities that don't have access to higher education. So, we have to just be mindful who benefits from this.

Francisco (34:41):

And it can't simply be seen as something to increase our profit margins, but indeed, something as a tool to increase the human condition and education has its place and its role to indeed do that, because through education, we believe it puts people on the pathway to prosperity. So, caution, embrace it. It's happening, don't be afraid of it. Lean in.

Salvatrice (35:01):

Thank you very much. Your responses shared with me that there needs to be an effective feedback mechanism. While we're all here today, we're here to hear, we're here to learn, we're here to connect. But it's also that continual feedback loop.

Salvatrice (35:16):

So, I pose this question to you: how do we as educational institutions or practitioners establish that effective feedback mechanism with industry sector, with academia, with state? How do we do that to better align our curriculum? Have it student centered and student-focused who benefits — to match these evolving demands that we keep talking about, specifically within the realms of technology or global lens, if we put our global lens on.

Francisco (35:46):

Dennis, you started this off already in saying that the industry informs our curricula. If we're not understanding what the competencies are, what the objectives are, what we're actually teaching, so that we could prepare, train, and support regional workforce things, we're not doing our job.

Francisco (36:03):

The community college (and I'll just say this bluntly) of the 21st century, we still have a lot of 20th century models in our higher education system. But in this case, we must be entrepreneurial, opportunistic, nimble, and responsive. We must adapt or we become irrelevant.

Francisco (36:19):

We have found that that was so played out with this last several years, to remain not just current, but relevant. Students have lots of choices with the ubiquitous online environment now, with lots of private proprietary institutions, guaranteeing certain sorts of things including employment. So, buyer beware of that.

Francisco (36:40):

So, we were in many ways, I think appropriately nudged and challenged to provide curriculum that is indeed relevant and that meets workforce needs. And we have to have the support of our business and industry. So, having these advisory councils that we have for each of our major disciplines that has recent graduates on those councils and it has a business ...

Francisco (37:04):

An interesting saying, here's where the trends are going — as Wayne Gretzky would say, here's where the puck is going to be. How do we skate towards it? So, that kind of synergistic relationship and really understanding the curriculum is both the responsibility of the institution, but we also want to engage and facilitate the very best information we can get from our folks who are in business and industry because we want to provide ready to work individuals.

Francisco (37:31):

And I think apprenticeships, pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeships are the one way to do that. I think the governor wants half a million and we're about a hundred thousand, so we got some work to do. And we're ready though. The two-year school is ready. So, I would say that's some initial thoughts.

Salvatrice (37:46):

Thank you for sharing how that looks like. Not only theoretically what it should be, but how that looks like.

Dennis (37:52):

I think the linkage that Dr. Rodriguez mentioned, I think that's critical — I think if you have recent graduates or you have folks in the business community who can kind of come back and create that partnership with academia, I think that's huge.

Dennis (38:01):

But instead of asking somebody what do they want to be when they get older, why don't you ask them what issues or challenges you want to solve? I think that's just such a poignant comment because at the end of the day, we can think of careers in a traditional sense, but that doesn't mean in the future, they're going to be locked into those buckets that we think they're going to be locked into.

Dennis (38:20):

So, I think looking at issues and challenges and solving for future needs is something we always kind of have to kind of track with. From a business perspective, from an engineering perspective and contracting perspective, that's how we look at the issues that our company faces.

Dennis (38:35):

And if we're not forward thinking in that aspect, I think essentially, at some point, we're going to go out of business. So, you've got to track that. I think looking at future challenges and future issues is critical.

Kelly (38:47):

I can just say that we're sort of uniquely positioned in the work that we do and we're sort of that interface between industry and academia. And I've learned that over the course of my work with registered apprenticeship, I've come to realize — and this has really happened for me and I think it really illustrated this point when I started developing these sort of new modern apprenticeship programs and engaging with industries that historically not been involved in the registered apprenticeship process.

Kelly (39:15):

And what I came to learn as I sat down with each of the respective entities was that you can't quit each other. I mean, you are inextricably linked and very reliant on ensuring that we're churning out the highest skilled, best trained global workforce that we can because now, we're competing on a global scale.

Kelly (39:34):

And I remember early-stage conversations when I would bifurcate those conversations, that was the olden days, when I would sit down with industry and they would lay out this plan for how they wanted to train their workers. And I would respectively do the same thing with faculty and academic partners, each of whom thought they had the motherhood and apple pie of proposals.

Kelly (39:56):

And I had to let them know that their apples are sour and everybody hates mom, and that they needed to come together, and that really forms that secret sauce of work-based learning. And the gold standard for that is registered apprenticeship (I'm probably being a little redundant here) — but at the end of the day, it's true.

Kelly (40:16):

And I just wanted to mention somebody, a small business owner, I neglected to talk about the fact that registered apprenticeship has the ability to fit everywhere and within any population and within any sector. That includes our small and mid-sized businesses. I think GoBiz would be very disappointed in me if I didn't shout out the fact that they are really the backbone and economic engine of this state.

Kelly (40:40):

And we are very assertively looking to partner with the small business administration and GoBiz and other entities who are really heavily invested ensuring that that workforce is also there because they're also buying for talent against their larger counterparts.

Nicole (40:57):

One of the things that I saw, again, working in construction, I also sound like a little bit of a broken record, but was the trades were saying, "Well, we need people." And education was saying, "Well, we've got people," but there was this gap. There seemed to be a little bit of a disconnect.

Nicole (41:08):

And so, what I saw working was that the trades started working specifically in the curriculum so that what they were teaching in school was exactly what was needed there, so that natural connection. But I think from a messaging standpoint for the kids, to know, "Oh, this school has relationships with these companies. So, I'm going to have a job. You're going to make sure that I get a job. You're going to make sure I get an apprenticeship, because there's this flow and that feeling like I'm not out by myself trying to figure this out, there's a little bit of a path that's been a little clear and somebody to shepherd me through."

Nicole (41:46):

And I think apprenticeships, internships, these are ways where they can get their hands in. And we talk about this career and oftentimes, not a straight line. You go in, you maybe start in carpentry, and you come out and you're like, "I think I want to do electrical" or I want to do something else.

Nicole (42:01):

And so, having people in apprenticeship programs or internship programs to sort of guide you along the path I think is really important. But then working together and then having a structured apprenticeship is really important.

Nicole (42:13):

But the messaging to students about the fact that that's there, like how are they going to know it's there if you don't tell them? There's no way you just magically know that there's a thing called apprenticeship and there's somebody here for you.

Nicole (42:25):

Like unless somebody tells you, and again, if you're waiting on the one-to-one engagement, there's so many impressions that come at us. Like I like to joke with my clients, like, "You have to fight cat videos. There's a lot of them, and they are going to take up a lot of mind pace. So, unless you are as loud as cat and dog videos, you're going get lost."

Nicole (42:47):

Because that's just the reality. Like every kid's got a cell phone, they might like certain things. Because of AI, they're going to get all the messages of the stuff they just bought, the place they just were, some conversation somebody had.

Nicole (43:00):

So, if you're not telling them, "We have these jobs, we have these apprenticeship, this person's going to help you get work boots." — these very specific tactile things that they can understand rather than like, "There's an apprenticeship program ..." "No, there's somebody that's going to get you work boots" like our friend on the trade side.

Nicole (43:20):

Those things mean something and they're very immediate. And people don't think in long range. They think in, "What do I need right now? I need a job. I need money. I need to upskill, I'm in this job and I need a cert to get more money at my company."

Nicole (43:34):

But if they don't see that your school has that, or your company has that, or there's an apprenticeship program that can guide you, they won't know. Again, I repeat cat videos. So, you have to like be loud. That's where digital can increase the numbers of impressions because they have to see what those stories are that are going to mean something to them. Otherwise, you have these great programs, and they don't know.

Salvatrice (44:01):

I heard the word "global competitiveness" from Kelly, and we, in preparing our students for the workforce, not only for immediate local needs, but how could we collectively be preparing our students for global competitiveness?

Salvatrice (44:18):

I just heard right now that individuals are not only competing, but employers need to compete in this space. We have lots of options. Our worker has lots of options and they're really looking to align themselves with an organization and an employer that serves and fulfills them — their obvious needs, but also their spiritual needs, their emotional needs, their psychological needs.

Salvatrice (44:40):

So, how do we prepare them competitively globally, and how do we do that together?

Dennis (44:46):

I'll just jump in real brief. I think you touched on this Salvatrice. It's not just a global competition between businesses, it's also a global competition for talent. So, I think there's a need out there for workforce. There's a need out there for skill labor workforce, there's a need out there for trained engineers and that sort of thing.

Dennis (45:03):

So, I jumped ship two years ago to join Black & Veatch, I was with a different engineering firm previously. At the end of the day, there's a war on talent. So, I think as long as you find your passion, as long as you kind of dig into something that fulfills you, as we talked about on the podcast, and you go and train up for that, the capability to go out and find opportunity because the businesses are competing for talent.

Dennis (45:25):

And so, go out there, get your certifications; go out there, get your training, get your education, find what moves you, and then move in the direction of networking to those companies. I think that's a tried-and-true way to kind of jump into a career. But make no mistake, companies are looking for talent, that's happening.

Kelly (45:41):

A couple of years ago, I worked alongside our former secretary, Julie Su, to develop some work in the Inland Empire. And it was this really unfortunate situation where we had all of these incredibly well-recognized academic institutions, NSA-recognized institutions, they were turning out students and they were being poached by other states, other countries.

Kelly (46:07)

And so, the Inland Empire was experiencing, this mass exodus, this sort of brain drain of talent leaving their region. And it was in part, not solely, but in part because the jobs weren't there in their respective community to be able to compete with the NSA and the Department of Defense back in D.C.

Kelly (46:27):

And so, the goal was to really bridge the gap with CSU, San Bernardino, and Cal Poly Pomona, and the incredible community colleges that exist in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, to say, how can we work with industry within this region to ensure that as these talented individuals are graduating from our academic institutions, that we keep them because that's going to contribute more broadly to the community to help the community thrive.

Kelly (46:57):

And so, we launched the Inland Empire Cybersecurity Initiative, and saw the participation of a lot of different employers: small, mid, large size employers. The other thing about IT and cybersecurity, again, it touches every single sector.

Kelly (47:12):

So, whether you're a healthcare institution, protecting the integrity and fortification of patient data, or you are a business that's ensuring that you're protecting your customer’s proprietary data, intellectual property — you need cybersecurity and IT professionals and you would like to get the best and the brightest that are coming from your local academic institutions.

Kelly (47:33):

And so, what we recognized, and the other thing that was noteworthy that I learned from somebody really, really smart, was that there's something called the rule of three. And it has to do with individuals, what keeps them in their community.

Kelly (47:47):

And it's basically, they're connected to their relatives or people that are close to them, mentors who are really having a significant impact on their lives and their sort of their vision for how they see their futures, and the ability to financially survive.

Kelly (48:07):

And the reality is, is that it's incumbent upon the community as a whole to problem-solve and get together. And again, registered apprenticeship in this particular case really solved that solution and continues to solve it. And I think that model, that blueprint, if you will, can be utilized throughout our state and communities all over from the north, all the way down to the south.

Salvatrice (48:31):

Thank you. This is the future of our conference, and it would not be right of me if I didn't ask this question. Looking ahead, what recommendations do you have for government leaders, given our theme here today about bridging programming with the evolving needs of industry — hat recommendations do you have for government leaders specifically around the most recently passed infrastructure bill?

Kelly (48:52):

Funding, more funding.

Salvatrice (48:53:

Money, money.

Kelly (48:54):

Funding and listening to industry, listening to community partners. One of the things I neglected to mention was the first of its kind formula funding that was included in last year's budget. The governor recognized that oftentimes in workforce and academia, you have ephemeral funding that can come and go depending on the contraction or expansion of how the economy is performing.

Kelly (49:18):

This particular funding mechanism is a non-competitive funding stream that allows for programs to defray the cost of running their program and build capacity for these programs. And so, I think it's important that government put their money where their mouth is. If they're saying that they're invested in building a workforce, investing in communities, that funding has to come. And I think leaders need to set that example.

Kelly (49:42):

I also think going on a listening tour to hear how respective communities across our state have their own unique needs. No one size fits all. And I think it's important as you're thinking about how to deploy those dollars, how can they be best utilized depending upon the community that you're looking at. And that would be one of a myriad of recommendations I would give to our government officials to be able to help support that effort.

Salvatrice (50:07):


Francisco (50:08):

Let me build on that because I think that's essential to underscore. Los Angeles County in and of itself, if it were a country, I think it'd be number, was it 12? Most powerful GDP in the world. Now, California's number four. So, I think we have a comparative and comparative advantage here in Los Angeles County.

Francisco (50:29):

With the proximity to railways, to transportation systems, to airports, to the seaports, the rich diversity of people who live here who want to continue to live here — with the linguistic diversity, we have a comparative advantage. And you add to that about 200 private and public higher education institutions, there is no other place in this country that has the variety, the different types of institutions than LA County.

Francisco (51:00):

And I don't think that we have done enough to leverage that and to position that discussion with our policymakers enough to say, "We have it all here." There's no reason that we can't train, educate, and then provide employment for the individuals that we do that with instead of having them exported somewhere else.

Francisco (51:18):

So, part of me says that take advantage of place. This is a wonderful place to live, to work, to be with others, to really to demonstrate the benefits of diversity and equity, and to really have the continued investment in public education, our P12 system, and to really look at it as a P through 14 investment, and then to continue to empower and infuse resources into our higher education institution as well.

Francisco (51:46):

There is, again, no other place like here. So, I'd like us to think about taking advantage and leveraging this notion of place that we call Los Angeles.

Salvatrice (51:55):

Excellent. Thank you.

Nicole (52:00):

What I've noticed in a lot of these sort of government or educational systems, these very large systems, is that they oftentimes forget the very human connection with people. And when we look at campaigns, we always say what's in it for me? They call it the, "WIIFM."

Nicole (52:13):

When you're looking at a government page or you're looking at an education page, when you look there, how easily is it clear what's in it for you? Because we oftentimes give money. You hear all this money that's given, but when it gets down to the interaction of the person that's seeing that opportunity, it's quite vague.

Nicole (52:33):

And I would say sometimes when you're looking at maybe a job sector, actually go and do the job with people, like actually be in sort of boots on the ground to really have that human experience of whatever the funding is going to have, walk the shoes of the people that are going to see it, and make sure that it makes sense and make sure that the story is clear and human, and maybe walk a mile in the shoes of those people to see if you were walking in those shoes, what would you want to hear?

Nicole (53:04):

I think it maybe would make the programmatic idea of it a little more human.

Dennis (53:09):

To kind of build upon what Dr. Rodriguez mentioned, I think taking advantage of place. I mean, if you look at the region of Los Angeles County, between what's happening at the airport, the twin ports, you've got the activity with Metropolitan Water District, the activity with DWP, you've got LA Metro, which is kind of doubling their transportation — there's a huge need for skilled labor in this region.

Dennis (53:30):

And so, I think to go back to your original question, if you're talking to government, I think what we have here, is there is a shortage of future skilled labor, which also includes how do we solve for that? And so, I think that comes down to funding, like Kelly mentioned.

Dennis (53:43):

I think just digging into training programs to get that gap in future skilled labor workforce here to get more fulfilled and have these opportunities. Because originally, I can't point to a different region around the country that has these types of growth opportunities that we do from an infrastructure perspective.

Dennis (54:00):

What's happening in Los Angeles County and Southern California is amazing. And for somebody like me who works in infrastructure, I feel happy that I kind of chose this path, but I think there's so much opportunity here for future infrastructure work. We've got to foster that.

Salvatrice (54:13):

Excellent. Thank you very much. Questions from the audience?

David (54:17):

Hello, my name's David Ereira. This question is for you Chancellor Rodriguez. As we've heard several times today, technology is advancing at a rate that by the time a student graduates, their degree is irrelevant. And it seems like soft skills are the hardest skills for students to actually obtain.

David (54:38):

Now, speaking as a graduate from two community colleges and a four-year college, my frustration has always been that once I graduated, I did not feel prepared for the workforce. And I feel like part of that frustration is because as a student, we're forced to take electives that are irrelevant, not just to our degree, but to our lives. Makes absolutely no sense to have to take classes that are not going to be used.

David (55:09):

So, the question is how can colleges better prepare students to take classes that will actually be relevant to their sustaining a career, and not just like a minimum wage job, but really infusing entrepreneurship? Because my business was born out of frustration, the only time I made six figures was when I started working for myself, and no college ever taught me that. So, I’ll pass the question.

Francisco (55:37):

No, thank you. It's a very important question. In the associate's degree, the two-year degree, the 60 or so units that we require all up and down the state, there are a series of writing, analytical mathematics. And the idea is that it provides a well-rounded set of tools that you can use.

Francisco (55:55):

Because what we have to be mindful of is are we training and educating students for a particular skill set that may evolve, or are we actually training them to love learning, to understand the process of learning, and to become as described, a lifelong learner?

Francisco (56:12):

Because inevitably the profession that we all have chosen or will choose will evolve over time. So, how do we adapt, learn, and really get into the habit and the discipline of learning as you're growing, as opposed to learning a particular skill set.

Francisco (56:30):

My father worked in a factory for 30 something years, and his job as I've talked to him, didn't change a whole lot during that particular time. He was an immigrant that was union worker at that time in San Francisco where he got to use his body, essentially, use his mind for other things outside of that.

Francisco (56:46):

But those types of positions where it's manual labor and kind of static are few and far between now. So, the reason we have those courses that you described as didn't have anything to do with your skill set, it’s because it's the profession's opinion that giving you a well-rounded to learn some of the soft skills to learning to work with others, problem-solving, writing, thinking, leadership — all things that we think are applicable to any type of setting.

Francisco (57:15):

We don't always get it right. And I think your frustration that you've demonstrated gives us feedback that says we don't always get it right for the student. For students who don't want the 60 or so units, that's half of the baccalaureate degree, there are certificates that are 8 units, 12 units as you know, 18 units, stackable credentials you can build on as you move forward.

Francisco (57:37):

But the real skill here and even the professions that we're all in, we've rather continuously learned sometimes through formal academic credentials, but most importantly, to inspire learning. They say that the mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited.

Francisco (57:53):

So, if we do that at the community college, we've done our job. But thank you for bringing a realistic tone to this idea that not everyone wants the other types of electives that we view as from a general education standpoint, as important. But thank you for that.

Participant (58:11):

So, this question is for the entire panel. I think it was mentioned earlier today about older adults returning to the workforce. So, can you talk a little bit about that? Because a lot of adults already have certain skills and are looking to change different career pathways.

Participant (58:26):

In addition to that, what type of skills may we already obtain that could be applied to future workforce opportunities?

Francisco (58:34):

Adult learners, there are millions of adult learners that outpace the number of high school graduates we're going to have in the state of California. So, if we're looking to build capacity at our institutions, really looking to adult learners is a pool of individuals, some that have degrees and credentials from other countries, some who want to upskill, some who've been displaced or dislocated because of the recent pandemic.

Francisco (58:58):

So, your notion of adult learners, non-credit education is a real area of growth for all of our community colleges up and down the state. Now, with the advent of being able to teach non-credit courses in language, provides an additional avenue of access and indeed, opportunity.

Francisco (59:16):

And there are several skills that people can learn that just recently, we opened up a Pacoima site there in Pacoima at LA Mission College, and students there, are learning phlebotomy, they're learning technical health career skills, how to use computers, ESL, all free of charge.

Francisco (59:33):

And these are adults that are coming back after work, if you will, at six o'clock to take these courses. And the building is full. We just opened that two weeks ago. So, it gives you a sense that there's a thirst for adult education, adult learners, and the governor's helped us coordinate how we build synergy between the high schools, the K12 system and community colleges that are both responsible for adult education.

Francisco (59:58):

And there, that when we have nice warm handoffs where they provide a certain part of curriculum, we provide the other part, it works best. We don't always get that right. But adult education is not just about ESL, it's about skills building so that folks can have the ability to upskill or re-skill into employments that are indeed necessary and where there are jobs.

Nicole (01:00:19):

We see campaigns that we're doing with community colleges where they're really focusing on like a certification. So, you have one experience, and you could get another certification to make more money to go into that, or to talk about what sort of skills you already have and what jobs would be open for you that maybe you didn't know about.

Nicole (01:00:37):

I mean, we always go back to marketing. It's talking about how industry or education show that to you. What opportunities would be for you? You know, from a marketing standpoint we target. So, if we were looking at a certain age group and we wanted to have people who were maybe more experienced, we might target people of maybe an older generation, somebody who has a certain skill set already, and then show them a new opportunity for them.

Nicole (01:01:04):

But I think unless somebody shows it to you, you wouldn't necessarily know that it exists. So, we always say marketing is the answer, but also, the education or the apprenticeship that would give you that opportunity.

Kelly (01:01:18):

What was interesting coming out of the pandemic, I think there was a misconception that a lot of the dislocated workers were a higher percentage, and they were sectors that had essentially been decimated; the hospitality industry for one.

Kelly (01:01:33):

And just in reading different statistics and surveys that were done — there were a lot of people that had epiphanies during the pandemic. I mean, we saw a lot of different individuals leaving and going after their passion, and trying to find the mechanism to make that happen. They had always dreamt of becoming fill in the blank.

Kelly (01:01:55):

And the great thing about what's happened with this sort of expansion of occupational portfolios and registered apprenticeship is that there were a lot of things on the menu, and many of which would serve to bring those opportunities to individuals who dreamt of becoming a stockbroker or an insurance salesperson, or a sales and marketing representative or in soon, going into teaching.

Kelly (01:02:21):

And so, I think registered apprenticeship is that ability to say, "I've been doing this for 15 years in my career and now, it's time for me to listen to my heart." And we saw a lot of that coming out of the pandemic and that's exciting.

Kelly (01:02:35):

And frankly, the high percentage of those career changers were older workers who had been invested in the workforce for a decade plus, and had made that decision that they were going to follow their passion. And that's what apprenticeship is all about.

Francisco (01:02:51):

Just one quick bullet point in your question: the community colleges up and down the state are now prepared for and can give credit for prior learning. So, there's a way to assess that and to accelerate time to degree, accelerate and provide units towards a particular certification or degree.

Kelly (01:03:09):

We're also working on something exciting now that's happening with ECE, and I won't go down a rabbit hole of ECE, but looking at ways to get sanctioned academic institutions to be able to tie with their industry partners credit for competencies performed on the job, to where you can actually take the practical application of something and ascribe college credits to it.

Kelly (01:03:36):

And I know IBM's doing that with their registered apprenticeship programs, and I along with degreed apprenticeship programs, I see that as sort of something that we can look toward in the future because real hands-on experience matters, but it's got to be complimented by things that are learned theoretically in the classroom. It's a way to accelerate that learning process but still main integrity around ensuring subject matter expertise.

Nicole (01:04:01):

I want to add one other thing. One of the things that we have seen specifically in the trades is I can put a bunch of marketing and get a bunch of kids in schools, but there's going to be a real problem that they don't have enough teachers.

Nicole (01:04:10):

Because if you're talking about a trade, you can't have a big classroom, you've got one teacher for every 18 students because you're dealing with welding equipment, and nobody wants that to be a big classroom situation. So, there's going to be a huge need for people who are looking to maybe retire out going into education.

Nicole (01:04:28):

And I think it's a real opportunity for the community colleges to expand those programs with people that have that real world experience. I think there's a real opportunity for them to come back in and teach.

Francisco (01:04:39):

Quick example, two thirds of our instructors are adjunct instructors, part-time instructors. And of that group, a large number of them are folks like yourself, working professionals with degrees and certifications that come to teach with us online or in the evenings, on weekends, during the day that fits within your schedule.

Francisco (01:04:56):

So, that's how we get that direct sort of input from you who are in the field and other industry experts to help us out to teach, and to give that real life experience as well. So, it's not all full-time instructors, we also rely on a platoon of experts to help us out.

Diego (01:05:12):

Hello, my name is Diego Moreno and I work with the San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, and I had a marketing question, really. I'm a consumer of Cat videos and I'm sure many of you like are too. They're funny and they're great, but how do you redirect to find talent?

Diego (01:05:29):

Because like you mentioned earlier, you could put a recruitment page, it could be boring, or hard to navigate, but how do you engage with them in a way where they actually want to participate and find this job?

Nicole (01:05:40):

Yeah, it's a great question. I mean, I think a lot of industry has really relied on like people just showing up magically. I don't know how, I guess the old newspaper ads. But we're working on a program with the manufacturing plant in Stone Mountain, Georgia where they need people.

Nicole (01:05:56):

And so, I went and interviewed the people that like the job, and we talked about, "Why do you like this job?" This sort of goes back to what you were asking about for the politicians — I went, and I talked to them about why they like this job.

Nicole (01:06:08):

They're on a plant, they're moving boxes, they basically do all the happy meal boxes. And I thought this is not something I would naturally be interested in, but they love it. And they said, "It's like a game or I like the activity, or I like that I can problem-solve right there and I don't have to go to management. I can make the change and see an effect immediately."

Nicole (01:06:26):

And I thought this is really interesting. These are the reasons why somebody would like the job, are the kinds of people that they want to come into the job. They don't want the people that are just there for a paycheck, they want the people that like the problem-solving, they want the people that like don't mind being on their feet. They have a lot of energy, they don't want to be sitting at a desk.

Nicole (01:06:44):

And so, we put those messages in front of the right target audience to sort of reverse engineer: here are perfect people and here are the messages to go find the other people. You can geofence, you can target — we find veterans to be really hard workers. So, we tend to always focus on people that have been veterans because they're really hardworking and they have great work ethics, and then that's sort of how we're driving people in.

Nicole (01:07:09):

So, I think it's really about focusing on the work itself, not just the money. Like the money gets you in but the work is what keeps you. And I think that's what we see, is making that sexy. I mean, I like to joke that like we make beige office parks sexy.

Nicole (01:07:26):

How do you make the work really exciting and use movie magic? You make them look like heroes. You make welding look like hero. I mean, we were talking a little bit about DEI, it's fun to show welding programs where the person pulls off their helmet and it's a woman, or it's really fun to sort of break the mold of what we see and to make them look like heroes.

Salvatrice (01:07:45):

Thank you so much. Please give them a round of applause. Thank you so much for your time.

Salvatrice (01:07:53):

Thank you for listening to the Future of Work Podcast. Make sure you subscribed on your favorite listening platform so you can easily get new episodes every Tuesday.

Salvatrice (01:08:02):

You can reach out to us by clicking on the website link below in the show notes to collaborate, partner, or just chat about all things future of work. We'd love to connect with you. All of us here at the Future of Work and Pasadena City College wish you safety and wellness.