Legislators were back in Olympia this week for Committee Days. This time each year, all committees in the House and Senate hold work sessions on a variety of topics to set the stage for the upcoming regular legislative session in January.
As always, community and technical colleges were in the spotlight with work sessions, testimony, and legislative outreach to discuss system initiatives and legislative priorities. Below are highlights from another great week.
CTCs meet workforce demands
The Senate Higher Education Committee held a work session yesterday to hear reports from various stakeholders about connecting services with the needs of Washington’s employers.
Tina Bloomer, SBCTC policy associate, the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC), and the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, presented the Skilled and Education Workforce Report. Using statewide labor market data, this report assesses the status of degree production in Washington and identifies where skilled workers are needed.
Highlights of the report include wage disparities at varying education levels, the impact of education on unemployment rates, and how aligning curricula between K-12 and postsecondary better prepares students for competitive workforce demands.
Kathy Goebel, SBCTC policy associate, and Amy Johnson, Association of Washington Business (AWB) strategic consultant, jointly presented on partnerships between CTCs and businesses through the Centers of Excellence (COEs). With 10 centers across the state representing in-demand fields, COEs bridge the gap between education and employers while providing professional development, training, faculty exchanges, program content development and review, and real-time economic information of local industries.
In early 2013, the SBCTC partnered with AWB to host skills gap forums statewide to share information about creating pipelines to better connect skilled workers with in-demand jobs. Participants discussed emerging employer needs, updated economic data, and how CTCs can help build curricula to narrow skills gaps and contribute to a healthy state economy. Outcomes from these forums can be found here.
David Prince, SBCTC research and analysis director, presented on the critical need touse current data to inform policy decisions throughout the CTC system and beyond. Prince described the type of data produced and how it’s shared between CTCs, higher education institutions, workforce agencies, and others.
CTCs use data to identify areas of need for colleges and to ensure students continue to have resources to reach their higher education goals. Examples include matching employment records, tracking student progression as courses are completed, and compiling program participation information. Discussions continue as needs evolve with a rapidly changing economy, in how to better collect data and share with partners statewide.
Legislators hearing CTC priorities
The House Higher Education Committee held a work session this morning to hear the legislative priorities from Washington’s higher education stakeholders.
Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, and Alison Grazzini Smith, SBCTC legislative director, presented the 2014 CTC system legislative priorities which include funding for high-demand enrollments, the Student Achievement Initiative, the MESA community college program, faculty compensation, severfal capital construction projects, and support for HB 1429 which expands postsecondary education in corrections institutions statewide.
Committee members also heard presentations from WSAC regarding the Roadmap Plan that identities Washington state educational goals for the next 10 years. Details of the Roadmap Plan can be found here. The Council of Presidents also presented its legislative priorities for the 2014 session.
To further build critical support for CTC priorities, meetings were held with key legislators and legislative staff to communicate the system’s legislative requests for the upcoming session. With recent election results, there will be a number of new legislators and legislative staff coming to Olympia in the next few months. This means additional outreach opportunities to demonstrate how community and technical colleges play a key role in elevating the lives of students, employers, and Washington’s economy.
Legislative News will continue to be published as legislative activities occur that impact community and technical colleges. It will be published multiple times each week when the Legislature convenes January 13.