A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that establishes baccalaureate degree pilot programs at up to 20 community college districts to help meet regional workforce needs has been signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
SB 850 (Block; D-San Diego) authorizes the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges (CCC), in consultation with the California State University (CSU) and the University of California (UC) to select certain community colleges to each offer a single bachelor’s degree program in a subject area related to an unmet workforce need in its local community that does not overlap with any degree programs offered at nearby postsecondary institutions.
The Public Policy Institute of California estimates that California will be short 1 million college graduates by 2025 unless the state makes changes to its education system. Although the CSUs and UCs currently are able to serve more than 650,000 students at a time, they do not have the capacity to close the gap by themselves to produce those 1 million extra graduates. It is critical that all sectors of California’s post-secondary education network, both private and public, optimize their capacity and performance in the coming years if the state is to meet the demands of the workforce.
As explained in an article by The Sacramento Bee, 21 other states offer community college baccalaureates. California’s colleges have traditionally been the domain of transfer students and career technical education, granting two-year associate degrees, as established more than 50 years ago in the Master Plan for Higher Education.
The pilot program authorized by SB 850 will expand the ability of the community colleges to contribute to the number of baccalaureate degrees earned in the public school system. Additionally, since it focuses on sectors in high demand in areas where no similar programs are offered at nearby universities, it does not duplicate existing efforts by the other public sector universities.
The pilot program is set to begin no later than the 2017–18 academic year and to end in 2024.
Staff Contact: Mira Morton