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Community colleges strengthening tech career paths

Eight L.A.-area community colleges team with high schools and employers to support workforce
University Business, May 2015

Partnerships between eight Los Angeles-area community colleges, 16 high schools and more than 100 employers launched in March to open tech career pathways to students and to strengthen the region’s workforce.

This program coincides with President Barack Obama’s TechHire initiative—a call to increase the number of people qualified for jobs in the technology industry by connecting them with higher ed programs and employers. TechHire programs operate in more than 20 communities, including Los Angeles, which launched the initiative in March.

The regional consortium—known as Los Angeles High Impact Information Technology, Entertainment & Entrepreneurship, and Communications Hubs (LA HI-TECH)—impacts 3,600 high school students with interest in three career pathways: design, visual and media arts; information support and services; and software systems and development.

With the Silicon Beach area near LA, the program is a perfect fit, says Frank Dawson, acting associate dean of career technical education at Santa Monica College, one of the participating institutions. “There’s also a tremendous need for diversity in technology fields,” he says. “This is a great opportunity for underrepresented groups, like women and minorities, to get the skills they need to be a part of the industry.”

The program focuses largely on dual-enrollment programs, with the college credits transferable—at no cost to students—to the eight participating schools as well as to the University of California campuses. Local technology employers also will provide students with internships and employment opportunities.

“Our goal is create meaningful relationships with these companies,” Dawson says. “Not only are we helping students succeed, but we’re helping create a talented workforce that has the skills employers need.”

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