California Community Colleges Strong Workforce Stars is an annual recognition and celebration for career education programs, also known as career technical education, whose students show significant gains in factors important for advancing social mobility – a substantial increase in earnings, attainment of a living wage and a job closely matched with the field of study.
Strong Workforce Stars is an output of the Strong Workforce Program, an annual recurring investment of $200 million to spur career education in California Community Colleges.
In 2018, three types of recognitions have been awarded to colleges that offer career education programs with strong post-college outcomes in employment, earnings gains, and regional living wages.
Gold Stars: graduates achieved strong outcomes in all three categories: earnings gains, living wages, and employment in a job similar to their field of study
Silver Stars: graduates demonstrated strong outcomes in two of these employment and earnings categories
Bronze Stars: graduates met a high bar in one category
In 2015-16, 174,911 career education students exited the California community college system and did not enroll in another two-year or four-year college the following year. Of these students, 71% could be matched to the state wage file to determine how many students improved their earnings and attained the regional living wage. In addition, responses to the Career and Technical Education Outcomes Survey help to document whether students who exited in 2014-15 got a job similar to their field of study.
Every California community college career education certificate or degree was analyzed to identify programs where graduates met one or more thresholds related to economic mobility:
In addition to themes in the types of programs that generate strong levels of economic mobility, six program characteristics emerged that are hallmarks of effective, evidence-based practices: successful programs are industry driven, career directed, faculty led, student centered, data informed and intersegmentally engaged. Considered together, these characteristics provide useful guideposts for developing and delivering career education programs in any sector. Learn more here.