System tracks career technical performance

By Tobias Cheng, Staff Writer

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Students who took career technical education (CTE) courses at California community colleges during the 2013-14 academic year experienced large median wage gains, according to a report about a new student performance measurement system by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office released on March 3.

CTE courses help students maintain or add to their experience skills.

The median wage gains were 13.6 percent, or $4,300 per year, according to the report by the State Chancellor’s Office.

Contra Costa College’s Economic and Workforce Development Director Kelly Schelin said students who take these classes for raise increases and concurrent employment are called “skills builders.”

The report states most skills builders tend to be older than other students and take only one or two CTE courses at a time.

Evan Decker, career pathways manager for economic and workforce development, said, a report that was sent only to faculty, showed the statistics of skills builders at CCC. 

There were exactly 300 skills builder students on record in 2013-14, Decker said. The average wage gain for a CCC skills builder was 17.62 percent, or $2,576 per year.

This means, compared to the statistics from all of the California community colleges, the average CCC skills builder experiences a higher-than-normal percentage wage gain, but was earning less to start with.

CCCCO Chancellor Brice Harris said, “These students come to us seeking to keep their skills current or move ahead in their careers. After finishing a few courses reap significant rewards.”

He said that for $46 per unit, a wage gain of $4,300 is a phenomenal value for students.

Schelin said, “A little bit of time and money can impact the livelihood of the rest of your life.”

Decker said community colleges only calculate completion rates by measuring how many students receive degrees or transfer to a four-year university.

Schelin said that before the student measurement system was implemented, it was hard to track these students.

“The Chancellor’s Office is giving (faculty) better services to track (skills builders) and serve them better,” she said.

The report states the new measuring systems are “forcing a pause and reset in how we think about college dropouts by revealing  many students have figured out how to effectively engage the post-secondary system at a low cost with high returns.”

The report states, this month, the option will be provided to view the percentage and wage gains of skills builders in the 2016 Student Success Scorecard.

Decker said students working in technology related industries are common for skills builders because technology changes so fast.

Schelin said that students working in health care are also common because they need to renew their certificates.

Decker said, “I would imagine that if the economy had a downturn, more skills builders would come to CCC.”

Schelin said that it is cheaper and faster for skills builders to take their CTE courses at a community college instead of a university.

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