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Serving California's 2.5 Million 'Stranded Workers'

April 6, 2018
 
 

As California's community college system develops a plan to create a statewide online community college -- an idea proposed and strongly backed by Jerry Brown, the state's Democratic governor -- a nonprofit group has released an analysis that seeks to identify the "stranded workers" the college would seek to serve.

The group, California Competes, found that 2.5 million Californians between the ages of 25 and 34 have graduated from high school but do not hold a college degree. The planned online community college would be aimed at improving the economic outlook for these workers. It will not issue degrees, instead focusing on short-term credentials in high-demand fields, such as advanced manufacturing, health care and child development.

More than 40 percent of the stranded workers identified in the analysis are parents. Most are from minority groups -- 49 percent are Latino, 31 percent are white, 9 percent are Asian and 7 percent are black, the report found. Men also are more likely to be stranded workers, comprising 54 percent of the group.

While the stranded workers tend to be lower income, with 58 percent earning less than $25,000 a year and a quarter lacking health insurance, the report found that 93 percent live in areas with good access to high-speed internet connections.

"Essential to the success of an online system is balancing the real-life constraints faced by working adults with known best practices such as deep instructor engagement, rigorous content and opportunities for face-to-face interaction with the learning community," the report said.

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