Community colleges represent a vital part of the education and talent development landscape (and the largest segment) with over a half a million students and adult learners pursing career and technical education certificates and academic degrees to work and advance in all of the region’s major industries and small businesses. As a result of the disruption caused by Covid-19 and the growing presence and availability of increase of online education from traditional universities and private online colleges, the community college system in the greater L.A. region has understands the economic, social and educational imperative that it faces to remain at the forefront of higher education access, opportunity and affordability while continuing to be the best option and pathway for so many to achieve economic prosperity and sustainable employment.
Community Colleges are taking proactive measures to respond to the skill and talent demands of our rapidly changing regional economy by developing new courses, programs and partnerships with industry and employers to co-invest in students to demonstrate value and viability for students and adult learners to pursue post-secondary education and training. Automation and other capital-labor substituting technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, could put tens of thousands of workers in the LA Area at risk of dislocation and of not having the skills that are required to be reabsorbed and succeed in the new economy, Community colleges in the LA Area are prepared for this challenge with highly qualified and experienced faculty, new technologically advanced facilities and committed employer partnerships needed to educate and train a competitive and skilled workforce. In this increasingly complex and competitive landscape, LA Area community colleges, in partnership with the LA County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) have a shared vision and collective strategies to better align supply with demand through deeper engagement of industry with college faculty and leadership to define the future of work in a way that meets the changing labor market demands of industry and sustains economic prosperity.
This report provides analysis of the changing landscape, and offers recommendations to increase the ability of the LA Area community colleges to be highly successful.
Progress on the recommendations in this report is already occurring, but much opportunity remains. The partnership between our region’s community colleges and LAEDC, as the region’s economic development leader, is an important regional initiative to sustain our economy and deliver opportunity for our residents and businesses.
In this report, LAEDC:
1. Assessed the value proposition, key differentiators and market position of LA Area community colleges
2. Identified important trends, threats and opportunities affecting the LA Area community colleges
3. Developed a preliminary set of potential short-term “enabling” initiatives for LA Area community colleges to adapt to the future of work and fast-changing education and training provider landscape
4. Developed a high-level path forward, with guiding principles, for achieving these enabling initiatives
5. Convened a group of LA Area leaders to share and further refine key findings.
This report was commissioned by the community colleges as part of the collaboration in Center for a Competitive Workforce (CCW).