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Burning Questions - FAQs

Q: Who is selecting Task Force members?

A: Chancellor Harris is making the final selection. The Task Force is anticipated to have 26 members, with half the seats representing key internal constituency groups. Nominations are being solicited through the leadership bodies of these internal constituency groups. The other half of the seats will be filled by external stakeholders, representing constituencies that depend on our community colleges for workforce training. The membership of the Task Force (in part or whole) will be announced by the end of December. For a timeline of Task Force meetings, visit

Q: Will faculty have a voice on the Task Force?

A: Absolutely! The Task Force will roll out in 3 phases and is designed to include representatives of as many voices as possible.

  • In phase 1, Regional College Conversations invite practitioners, including local Academic Senate leaders and CTE faculty representatives to come together to generate and prioritize ideas to inform the Task Force on how to achieve its goals. The Chancellor’s Office is working with ASCCC leader David Morse to help encourage local Senate leaders as well as CTE faculty to attend. This desire to engage faculty is further reinforced by the host CEOs in their invitations to the colleges in their region. Also, the Chancellor’s Office has invited the ASCCC Executive Committee to join all Regional College Conversations by sending a representative, and they agreed.
  • In phase 2, the ideas surfaced in phase 1 will be vetted with external stakeholders.
  • Phase 3 is the Task Force itself. The Chancellor’s Office has asked the ASCCC to nominate faculty representatives to serve on the Task Force. Desired skillsets include 1) experience contextualizing general education into CTE, 2) experience contextualizing basic skills into CTE, 3) experience embedding industry-valued credentials into a course/program, and/or 4) experience counseling students on a campus with strong CTE programming. By bringing forth this type of integrated expertise from the faculty, our system will receive input that will enable us to plan and be more effective in serving students and the state of California.

Q: Labor market information is so essential in retooling existing programs or the development of new programs. Are there resources to help us with this?

A: Yes. ALL colleges in a macro-region are supported by a dedicated Labor Market Research Center of Excellence expert. These experts have at their disposal an array of labor market information tools to support you. They also know of relevant research like sector profiles that can be helpful and can generate specialized data (see example) when requested. And, they can commission or help you commission original research. Find your Center of Excellence expert here.

Q: Is there a way to find model courses/curriculum/programs upon which the faculty could build/refine/adapt/adopt?

A: There are regional, state and national networks that a college can access. Our system’s curriculum inventory is searchable online any time. Then, consider comparing employability results of similar programs across colleges via the Salary Surfer and feel free to contact colleges whose program content and goals you would like to emulate. In addition to these tools, consider emailing the network of Sector Navigators or Deputy Sector Navigators or CTE Regional Consortia Chair/Vice Chair to help you locate curriculum, programs and certificates. They can email their respective local, state, and federal communities of practice to help you locate a model. Look them up in the directory.

Q: What about us CTE faculty who are outside of the priority and emerging sectors selection by our regions? Will we be left out of funding opportunities?

A: While recent state investments have augmented capacity in the priority and emergent sectors in order to emphasize sectoral strategies in accordance with SB 1402 legislative mandate, but CTE at college programs run the gamut of meeting local, regional and/or statewide labor market needs. Resources will tend to favor CTE programs with strong employability and completion (either completion of certificate, degree, transfer readiness, or quality industry-valued credential) outcomes. Those programs whose content prepares the students for well-paying jobs are likely to thrive in the future. To that end, it is important that colleges assume the ongoing responsibility for retooling programs and ensuring that the curriculum remains current and responsive to industry needs. This, in turn, will increase students' prospects for employability (placement or wage gain) and completion. Faculty needing support to retool their curriculum should discuss this with their CIO and CTE Dean.

Q: While the first option for addressing a struggling program is normally to retool and improve the program, on occasion programs no longer serve a viable purpose at a college and must be discontinued. The decision to discontinue a program is always difficult and politically charged. What help can we access to undertake this work?

A: Here are three resources: 1) the new LaunchBoard tool provides outcomes data consistent with requirements of accreditation helpful for you to have data-backed discussions with faculty, 2) learn the “how to” by reading the Program Viability Toolkit and 3) speak directly to other practitioners to counsel you on the process by emailing statewide listservs on which you belong.

Q: I am a CTE Dean who worked hard to discontinue a program only to have the FTES shifted to another area instead of applying the FTES towards meeting the labor market need that I intended. What is your advice?

A: CTE Deans can become discouraged when they do the hard work to discontinue a program only to find the freed-up FTES shifts elsewhere instead of being applied to another much needed CTE area, as the Dean had intended. CTE deans and their CIO face a difficult enrollment management tradeoff. The state-wide emphasis on transfer and basic skills have ramped up offerings in these missions, while the CTE/workforce training mission has not grown as fast or in some areas has shrunk. Statewide, this phenomena has resulted in a collective 12-year decline in “CTE as a percentage of the FTES” portfolio. College CIOs, CEOs, and Trustees should be aware of this phenomena and foster campus processes whereby CTE staff and faculty are encouraged to keep their programs current and aligned with labor market needs.

Q: Who gets to keep the FTES if colleges within a region work together to deliver a program?

A: There is no change being discussed as to how FTES is allocated.

Q: A lot of CTE programs are higher cost because of the equipment/facilities/lab/supplies cost and instructional cost but colleges are reimbursed the same regardless. Are we allowed to bring this up in the Regional College Conversations?

A: Yes. The current funding structure has resulted in a 12-year decline in “CTE as a percentage of the collective FTES” portfolio. The higher cost structure of most CTE programs has been identified as being at the root of this collective behavior. This is a topic ripe for discussion.

Q: Who gets to count completion if a student does the core sequence at my college then goes to another college to finish the specialty coursework?

A: Historically, the scorecard “win” goes to the college where the student starts. But, given the recent acknowledgement of the workforce outcome identified in “skill builder” short-sequence course-taking patterns,  as well as the need for more modularization/stackability in CTE instructional design as well as regionally coordinated core vs. specialty coursework within a region, perhaps it is timely to discuss how to best account for and measure workforce outcomes.

Q: In some cases, curriculum approval processes have been slow to respond to industry needs. Will the Task Force consider ways to streamline aspects of the CTE curriculum approval process where necessary?

A: If industry needs short-term classes and workshops that train employees in specific skills, such as time management, workplace ethics, etc., colleges typically can provide answers in a short time-frame (less than a week). This is because the need is not for credit curriculum, it’s for a certain number of contact hours in a contract education, fee-based, or grant-funded class. If industry wants a one-semester or year-long or longer curriculum that is credit-based, and if the program does not yet exist, the approval process required by the region, the college, and the state can be very lengthy. Curriculum approval processes are a matter of local decision-making, and thus the Task Force cannot dictate changes to those processes.  However, we hope that Regional College Conversations can raise examples of and suggestions for effective processes that can then be considered by the Task Force as a recommended good practice.  Faculty on the Task Force will be essential in guiding such discussions for improvement and ensuring that local processes are respected while considering suggestions for improvement and streamlining, not limited to the local and regional levels but also ways in which the Chancellor’s Office can help to facilitate more effective curriculum approval.

Q: My college is down to 1 full time faculty in each CTE discipline and he/she already feels overworked. How can we support him/her to do the needed work to retool programs?

A: Many CTE disciplines at a college have only one full time faculty. Some small, rural colleges cannot afford to hire a full time faculty but want to offer programs relevant to the labor market. The Regional College Conversations are intended to surface good ideas from practitioners on what support they need. Is there coordination or collective effort at the regional level that can help with some of these issues that cannot be solved by one college alone? How can the CTE Regional Consortia, Sector Navigators and Deputy Sector Navigators best help CIOs, CTE Deans, and CTE faculty (e.g., regionalize employer advisory committees so that there is less work for any one faculty)?

Q: CTE Faculty need externships with industry to stay current. Can you create a stipend to help us stay current?

A: Rather than each college taking on this endeavor alone, perhaps there can be a regional approach to support faculty pursuit of externships pertinent to their CTE field with the objective that faculty ultimately align curriculum with labor market needs. Stipends would clearly be needed, but the organizing of this program can be set up regionally instead requiring resources at every college. Hopefully, these types of ideas to support faculty professional development will surface through the Regional College Conversation process.

Q: We have initiative overload.

A: We are not sure we can provide a satisfying reply. Higher education is experiencing disruption for a multitude of reasons. Public concern over student debt load and low completion rates; the shelf life of workforce skills is getting shorter; workers need to acquire training on an on-going basis; technology advances now enable time-to-competency and personalized approaches to education delivery in a way never before possible. These trends and many more developments that are not yet known to us will continue to influence and provide opportunities for us to change into the next decade. These trends are nationwide and the California Community Colleges will be affected. The major initiatives of the Chancellor’s Office aim for systemic progress. No doubt, our colleges do tremendous work on behalf of our communities and serve as anchors for our students. It is for them that all our efforts matter.

Q: I understand that the issue of the high cost of CTE programs has surfaced at every Regional College Conversations so far.  It’s possible that the Task Force will very likely consider making a recommendation about funding options, including “differential funding.” What is differential funding?

A: Differential funding is one that acknowledges the cost of programs through the way that colleges are “paid” by the State. There are different ways to do this. One model is to fund different types of programs at different rates, usually depending on the cost to offer or maintain the program. Another approach is to leave the apportioned FTES dollar value the same for all programs, but create a data-driven “FTES Factor” that adjusts actual FTES into Adjusted FTES (AFTES) to account for the cost. A third way is to set aside categorical funds to supplement colleges for these costs. These are other ways. Consider reading Workforce Investments: State Strategies to Preserve Higher Cost Career Education Programs in Community and Technical Colleges on the Task Force Reading List: “Thirteen states have some form of differential funding, whereby state funding formulas take program costs into account in calculating allocations. Among the states with differential funding, it is common for higher-cost programs to be funded at more than twice the rate of lower-cost programs. Under these formulas, a college with an above average share of high-cost programs would receive more funding per student than a college with an average program mix.” The same report also states, “Community colleges in California are funded at a constant rate per full-time-equivalent student (FTES) and are accountable for meeting enrollment targets within their allocations. That creates a fiscal disincentive to support high-cost programs because the same dollar allocation stretches across more FTES when used for lower-cost programs. Not all CTE programs are high cost, and not all liberal arts/transfer programs are low cost, but due to class size constraints and the specialized lab and equipment needs of many CTE programs, cost considerations have surely played into decision making at the college level.”

Q: Why is this Task Force moving so quickly?

A: While some say this effort is moving too quickly, others say this work is moving too slowly. The fact is, this is an urgent initiative recognized by the Governor, the Legislature, the Board of Governors, the Chancellor’s Office, and the colleges and regions throughout the state. Given our system’s vital role in the ability of many Californians to access the current and future economy, the community colleges’ workforce mission must pace with industry and with rapidly evolving workplace skillsets. Other states and countries are not sitting still in the competition for jobs. In addition, even upon the adoption of the Task Force recommendations by the Board of Governors in September of 2015, more work will be needed to agree on the details of the regulations, legislations and/or practice changes at the state level before the results of the initiative reach the field.

Q: How have the CIOs and faculty been involved in the Task Force roll-out up to this point in time?

A: There has been proactive outreach to encourage CIOs and faculty to participate in the Regional College Conversations. Administrators and faculty have attended all the meetings so far, and we are working with the ASCCC to explore additional ways to increase faculty involvement and participation in the ongoing dialogue. In addition, both the CIO Executive Committee and the ASCCC have been solicited to nominate candidates to serve on the Task Force. Task Force members (in whole or in part) will be announced by the end of December.

Q: Will there be guidelines for the development of new certificates so the dialog is focused from the beginning?

A: Guidelines or new program (degrees and certificates) approval exist now in the Program and Course Approval Handbook (PCAH). Toolkits to guide the development of guidelines regarding curriculum processes can be done as a collaboration between the Academic Senate and the Chancellor’s Office. Such documents would normally be created by the System Advisory Committee on Curriculum (SACC), and they do take time to write and review. But once done, they can be incorporated into existing information regarding certificate development in the PCAH.

Q: How can “model” curriculum be developed that faculty at the college/regional levels could build upon, refine, adapt or adopt?

A: The development of model curriculum and structured pathways for students are an ongoing project for the Chancellor’s Office, Academic Senate and field. Through the Course Identification Numbering System (C-ID), the Academic Senate draws together discipline faculty to develop descriptors that establish minimum standards for courses and, where appropriate, to define model curricular pathways. Currently under development are model curricula for nursing, engineering, and information and communication technologies, all three of which can be viewed at Other model curricula can be explored and developed as needed. Currently, curriculum and program development decisions must still be made at the level of the individual district or college, but regional discussions to help inform those decisions and to develop statewide models adaptable to local needs will help to improve statewide portability, consistency, and efficiency. A similar C-ID process (i.e. not including CSU yet) needs to be considered for non-transfer CTE curriculum so that colleges in the region and the state have aligned CTE curriculum.

Colleges/faculty wishing to locate a specific C-ID model curriculum or to locate examples of how others in the State or in other states have approached a similar curriculum should tap into the various available networks:

Q: How will student placement into jobs be tracked?

A: The Chancellor's Office currently documents workforce outcomes for students who receive a degree or certificate. The Salary Surfer, for example, maps graduates with the state's EDD wage data so that you can see (in aggregate) what students earned 2-years prior to completing vs. 2- and 5-years after completing. In addition, the LaunchBoard displays employment status and employment retention for all students by CTE program area. The limitations on this data mapping are that the EDD wage data do not indicate whether students are placed in their field of study and that data cannot be mapped for certain types of students, such as those who are self-employed, join the military, or leave the state. To address the former issue of whether students are successfully finding work in the discipline they studied, the Chancellor's Office TRIS Division is in beta phase of developing a tool that can indicate the types of workplaces students were in before and after graduating, such as a construction firm or a retail outlet. To address the latter, as part of the federal gainful employment agenda, our system will in the future be able to get employment and wage data from the federal social security administration -- but only for programs that graduate 30 or more students in a year who received federal financial aid.  In the meanwhile, the CTE Outcomes Survey, which does capture employment in field of study, is the way that a majority of our colleges secure data. Colleges currently pay to participate and the data is collected through student surveys.  The Task Force may wish to explore how to better resource a systematic ability to track employment and wage outcomes of students.

Q: When students earn industry-recognized credentials, that should count towards our completion scorecard. Can the state help with the data collection?

A: The Chancellor's Office is investing resources to secure data on when industry-recognized credentials are being earned by our students. Pilots are underway to map IT certificates awarded by CompTIA as and those awarded by the National Institute for Metalworking Skills (NIMS). Already, the agency has inked an agreement with the California Division of Registered Apprenticeships to collect data on students who complete a Journeyman credential.  The question of how workforce outcomes should be recognized by the State and in the CCCCO scorecard may be of interest to the Task Force as they consider ways to promote and expand the good work in CTE being done at our colleges.