High-Quality System Sensitive to Workforce Needs Critical to Keep State Competitive in Global Economy

In order to compete in the global economy, California must stay competitive by ensuring that the state has an educated and skilled workforce. However, this alone is not enough. Although California has great educational institutions and opportunities for individuals to obtain educational degrees and certificates, there seems to be a disconnect between the education offered and received by potential workers and the needs and demands of the business community. The skills and degrees being obtained are not necessarily the ones that will be needed in the future, and completion rates for California community colleges and universities are not keeping up with the growing demand for degrees and skills of future jobs.


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Foster greater business involvement to improve both teacher and student performance and administrative accountability in schools throughout California.

Major Victories

Supported a bill signed into law in 2017 that will help California reduce the skills gap by authorizing a competitive grant program to help individuals who face multiple barriers to employment (AB 1111).

Supported signing of bills in 2016 increasing access to computer science (AB 2329); and improving relevance of Career Technical Education courses (SB 66).

Stopped bills in 2016 that would have jeopardized state workforce goals (SB 959, AB 2183).

Supported voter-approved $9 billion general obligation bond in 2016 to fund new construction and modernizing of K-12 public schools, charter schools, vocational education and California community college facilities (Proposition 51).

Supported voter-approved measure in 2016 that will make it easier for schools to offer bilingual programs (Proposition 58).

Supported legislation in 2016 for innovators, entrepreneurs by funding expanded capacity for the University of California innovation and entrepreneurship centers (AB 2664).

Supported adoption of legislation in 2015 allowing high school students to take college-level coursework to avoid the need for remediation and expand access to college-level career technical education courses (AB 288)

Filed a friend-of-the-court brief in 2015 in support of a landmark trial court decision striking down laws related to teacher tenure and dismissal that disadvantage low-income students and contribute to the state’s shortfall of highly skilled workers (Vergara v. California).

Supported creation of pilot program in 2014 allowing certain community colleges to offer a bachelor’s degree in a subject related to an unmet workforce need (SB 850).

Backed legislation in 2014 promoting computer science education (AB 1764, SB 1200, AB 1539).

Backed proposal signed into law in 2013 improving the associate degree for transfer pathway for students (SB 440).

Helped improve alignment in 2012 in the state’s workforce needs and education resources (SB 1402).

Supported bills signed into law in 2012 that provide support services to students on the front end of their educational experience, as well as strengthen and focus California career technical education programs (SB 1456, SB 1070).

Supported High-Quality Curriculum and Instruction. Backed 2011 legislation that will increase high school graduation rates, improve the college and workplace readiness of those graduates and train teachers to better prepare California’s students to compete in a global economy by emphasizing education programs that provide students with real-world experience and rigorous coursework to help them engage and excel (SB 611, SB 612).

Promoted Student Preparation for Workplace. Advocated passage of legislation in 2010 that will help increase the number of students who go on to obtain a four-year degree by requiring California Community Colleges to offer an associate’s degree for transfer (SB 1440); and bills putting California in the best position to meet requirements for federal grants for education (SBX5 4, SBX5 1).

Supported Rigorous Education Standards. Joined former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other business organizations in arguing in favor of the Algebra I test requirement for eighth graders, the highest mathematics education standard in the nation. Adoption of the standard by the state education board in 2008 will maintain the state’s competitiveness and appeal to world-class businesses with high-wage jobs.

Protected hard-won measures to ensure schools are held accountable for student achievement in a court case upholding the high school exit exam and by securing the veto of legislation that would have undermined the effectiveness of the exam by lowering state student proficiency standards (AB 2975).


The CalChamber seeks to ensure that all students graduate from high school adequately prepared to enter the workforce or continue their education without the need for remediation. All students should be exposed to high-quality courses related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics throughout their education, and be taught to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. More high school graduates should be prepared to continue their education by earning a certificate, associate or bachelor’s degree, and postsecondary education should be affordable and attainable within a reasonable period of time.

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Karen SarkissianKaren Sarkissian
Policy Advocate,
Health Care, Education