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Frequently Asked Questions for the Strong Workforce Program

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Q: How long do we have to expend each year's Strong Workforce Program allocation?

A: Strong Workforce Program allocations, both local and regional, base allocation and Incentive fund, must be spent within 30 months of the date expenditures are first authorized. Here are the dates for the first three years:

SWP allocation expenditure deadlines
Fiscal year in which funds were authorized Start Date End Date
2016-17 7/1/16 12/31/18
2017-18 7/1/17 12/31/19
2018-19 7/1/18 12/31/20

Q: When are funds considered obligated for the purposes of meeting the 12/31/18 expenditure deadline for the year 1, 2016-17 allocation of Strong Workforce Funds?

A: The following table establishes when Strong Workforce Program funds are considered obligated. As with all fiscal matters, local policies must also be followed.

When SWP funds are considered obligated
Type of Cost Obligation Occurs
Equipment and Supplies Date of Purchase Order
Work of Employees When Work is Done
Contracted Services Date of Written Agreement
Utilities When Used
Rental When Used
Travel When Travel is Taken
Conference Registration When Fee is Paid

Local Strong Workforce System FAQs

Q: What is the URL link for the Local Strong Workforce System?

A: The Local Share portion is managed within NOVA (nova.cccco.edu).

Q: How do I obtain the user name and password for the Local Strong Workforce System?

A: To gain access to NOVA you will need to email strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu with your first and last name, title, email address.

Q: How do we know who is the District Signing Authority? Is it the CEO, the VPI, the CBO?

A: The Chancellor’s Office will leave it to the discretion of the CCD to assign the representative that will, on behalf of the CCD be responsible for receiving submitted proposals via email.

Q: Is there a Board of Trustees action required?

A: No, under statute there is no required board of trustee approval required at the local level. However, colleges and districts should follow local policy.

Q:Do projects receive some sort of "official approval," and if so, do we have to wait to begin expending funds?

A: Yes, the Local Share Projects are certified at the college level to verify the budget. The approving authority by default is the College Signing Authority. The District Signing Authority is emailed on all submissions but they do not have an active certification role. Funds can be expended now, but be mindful that the expenditures are contingent on the budget, and the proposed increase to the Strong Workforce Metric outcomes.

Q: Who is the CSA (college signing authority) for my college?

A: Your CSA is listed on every project under Contacts. If this needs to be updated, please email us at strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu.

Q: Who is the DSA (district signing authority) for my district?

A: Your most recent DSA is listed on every project under Contacts. If this needs to be updated, please email us at strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu.

Q:Where can I find the webinars regarding the NOVA Strong Workforce Program Module updates from 5/17 and 5/21?

A: The webinars for 5/17 and 5/21, as well as future postings of webinars, can be found on this events page.

Q: Does the criterion of "evidence of demand" include existing programs or just new and emerging programs?

A: Evidence of demand can include existing programs. For example, the Labor Market Information (LMI) or Launchboard data might indicate there is an oversupply in a particular area where a program currently exists. A second example might include expanding an existing program because of greater need as shown by LMI or Launchboard data.

Q:Is there any plan to share effective practices in college decision making for the local funds. In other words, how are colleges ensuring that the discussions are broad and engaging of faculty leaders across the institution while at the same time ensuring that CTE faculty expertise and discipline knowledge is respected?

A: The guidance document about allowable costs talks about ensuring that input has been received by faculty and dean levels in order to inform planning. In addition, the Labor Market Information (LMI) and data elements called for in the plan are designed to help create and sustain data conversations that are part of effective planning. Keep in mind that FTES must not go below the baseline ratio established for CTE FTES.

Q: Oh no! I've submitted my plan on accident. What do I do now?

A: If you've submitted a plan on accident, you will need to look at the Contacts tab and see who at your College was given CSA access. The CSA can then login and reject the submitted plan. This kicks the submitted plan back to a draft mode.

Q: As a test, I created too many plans that I do not need. Can I delete them?

A: Yes! Just click the trash can icon to the far right on the project when you are on the Projects screen.

Q: Oops. I submitted a plan that I do not want at all.

A: Follow the same procedure as above. Have the CSA unlock the plan and then just do not resubmit it. You can then delete that project.

Q: I am still having issues. How can I make it easier for you to replicate this and solve it within a reasonable period?

A: Send an email to strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu and document the issue properly so that our SWP team can troubleshoot and resolve in a timely manner.

Q: Why did the Task Force Recommendations pop up on my system?

A: If you chose All Programs, you are then prompted to choose Strong Workforce Task Force Recommendations that are most applicable to how you are spending the money. Please note that you will need to click on the recommendations to expand them. Click through the recommendations until you can see check boxes. You are free to choose as many as you would like in each category.

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Regional Share Strong Workforce Program System FAQs

Q: Will you please assist in removing all red lined empty contacts in a project?
These colleges are not participating and we are unable to remove them.

A: If an institution has an expenditure against a project, they are a participant for the duration of the project. This is a logic we do not want to change in order to maintain that history.

In addition, if a college was a participating institution on all of the workplan items it remains. This association would also prevent their deletion. Again, a logic we would not want to change.

This may come up again for projects that were certified and later uncertified to remove institutions.

Here are the steps to allow the removal of the institution.

  • Unsubmit Q1 & Q2 fiscal reports ONLY if there are no expenditures entered.
  • Return to the project
    • delete the contact name
    • delete the institution from any workplan items
    • delete the institution from the participating institutions in the description tab.

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NOVA Strong Workforce Program Fiscal Reporting Module FAQs

Q: Which users are reporting for SWP?

A: A list of users was nominated by Regional Consortia Leads and District Signing Authorities, and the list has been reviewed and validated by a variety of other authorities in the field and at the Chancellor’s Office. If you don’t have reporting permission and feel that you should, please click the help icon within NOVA to request access, or send an email to strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu.

Q: Why don’t I see the Fiscal Reporting link in the NOVA navigation menu?

A: If you do not see the Fiscal Reporting menu item you have not been assigned reporting permissions. Please click the help icon within NOVA to request access, or send an email to strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu.

Q: Why do I only see SWP Local projects in my Fiscal Reporting dashboard?

A: You will only see projects for the funding streams for which you have been provided access. If you only see SWP Local projects, you have not been assigned fiscal reporting access for SWP Regional projects. If you feel this is an error, please click the help icon within NOVA to request access, or send an email to strongworkforcehelpdesk@cccco.edu.

Q: How do I know what Fiscal Reporting permissions I have?

A: Locate the Profile Settings icon at the top right corner of NOVA. Scroll to the bottom and you will see NOVA User Roles. This will tell you the level of access you have for SWP Local and SWP Regional. You will either see Level 1 (Basic ) or Level 2 (Advanced) for the funds to which you have been provided reporting access. Please see the SWP Reporting User Guide for a full explanation of access levels and their respective permissions.

Q: I have reporting permissions. Why don’t I see any projects in my fiscal reporting dashboard?

A: You may not have a college assigned to you in your Profile Settings. Locate the profile icon in the top right corner, and click on Profile Settings. Then, scroll to SWP Fund Access & Associations to add one or more institutions under “College/District”.

Q: Why am I not able to change the overall budget to a project?

A: Only users who are associated with the lead institution of a project or users who have Advanced Level permissions are able to adjust overall budgets.

Q: Am I able to move budget between colleges in a project?

A: Yes, if you have Advanced Level permissions. Click the Edit Budget button on the top menu. Once in the project, you may decrease one college’s budget and increase another college’s by the same amount. Advanced users may also increase the overall budget by simply adding budget to a college.

Q: The project has not met the 40% spending target stated, can I still submit the Fiscal Reporting?

A: Yes, the 40% spending target is a guideline not a requirement. Should you underspend, you will be asked to explain why the 40% guideline has not been met.

Q: Is there documentation that I may read to become familiar with NOVA and the Fiscal Reporting process?

A: Yes. Locate the help icon at the top right of NOVA. Once you click the question mark icon you will find links to this FAQ and User Manuals. We also provide NOVA instructional Youtube videos.

Q: Oh no! I accidentally added an extra participating institution to my project and now I can’t delete it. It gives me an error that says it’s tied to a contact?

A: To properly remove the accidental institution you will need to go to the Contacts tab on the breadcrumbs and remove the contact that was populated by clicking on the x. Thereafter, you can go back to the first tab and properly remove the institution completely.

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All Other FAQs

Q: Are we required to obtain approval from the Chancellor’s Office for out-of-state travel funded by SWP?

A: No, however colleges should review such expenditures to ensure that the extra expense involved in out-of-state travel will contribute significantly to meeting the goals of the Strong Workforce Program. Colleges should also be comfortable that out-of-state travel could appear on the front page of the paper or the evening news without causing the public to question the validity of the expense. Colleges must, of course, follow their district’s policies with regard to travel.

Q: We have a building that requires renovation in order for us to offer a new CTE program that meets a need in our regional labor market. May we use Strong Workforce Program funds to support this renovation?

A: As with all CTE investments, colleges should judge the appropriateness of an investment by assessing the extent to which it supports the Strong Workforce Program goals. As 888824(5) states, districts must certify that the use of Strong Workforce Program funds meets the following requirements:

A) Increase the number of students in quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that will achieve successful workforce outcomes

B) Increase the number of quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that lead to successful workforce outcomes, or invest in new or emerging CTE courses, programs and pathways that may become operative in subsequent years and are likely to lead to successful workforce outcomes.

C) Address recommendations from the Strong Workforce Task Force, including the recommended provision of student services related to career exploration, job readiness and job placement, and work-based learning.

Colleges should also take into consideration the requirement that these funds not supplant. Assuming that there is a documented strong labor market demand for the program and that the program is the sole beneficiary of the renovation, then this could be a very appropriate expenditure. If the building renovation would also benefit programs that are not CTE or are serving occupations that are not demand, it would be appropriate to fund the renovation with SWP funds in proportion to the in-demand CTE program’s share of the overall costs and benefits of the renovation. 

Q: Can SWP funds be used to cover registration fees and other supportive costs for College Promise programs modeled after the Long Beach Promise?

A: The Ed Code does not allow colleges to use district resources to pay for student registration fees that are not otherwise waived. (The Board of Governors Fee Waiver is an example of a specifically authorized fee waiver.) See Enrollment Fee Waivers Legal Opinion O 11-03 for more information. Other expenses consistent with the goals of the legislation may be eligible. As 888824(5) states, districts must certify that the use of Strong Workforce Program funds meets the following requirements:

A) Increase the number of students in quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that will achieve successful workforce outcomes.

B) Increase the number of quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that lead to successful workforce outcomes, or invest in new or emerging CTE courses, programs and pathways that may become operative in subsequent years and are likely to lead to successful workforce outcomes.

C) Address recommendations from the Strong Workforce Task Force, including the recommended provision of student services related to career exploration, job readiness and job placement, and work-based learning.

Q: Is it acceptable to offload existing faculty salaries onto Strong Workforce Program funding?

A: The statute 88824 (e) specifically says “Funds appropriated to community college districts for the program shall supplement, and NOT SUPPLANT, existing funding of community college career technical education programs.”

888824 (5) states that districts must certify that the use of Local Share meets the following:

A) Increase the number of students in quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that will achieve successful workforce outcomes

B) Increase the number of quality CTE courses, programs, and pathways that lead to successful workforce outcomes, or invest in new or emerging CTE courses, programs and pathways that may become operative in subsequent years and are likely to lead to successful workforce outcomes.

C) Address recommendations from the Strong Workforce Task Force, including the recommended provision of student services related to career exploration, job readiness and job placement, and work-based learning.

Successful workforce outcomes are limited to these multiple measures:

INCREASE QUANTITY (“more”) - required

  • CTE enrollment

IMPROVE QUALITY (“better”) – choose at least one

  • Completion
  • Transfer
  • Employment rates
  • Employment in field of study
  • Earnings
  • Median change in earnings
  • Proportion of students who attained living wages

Shifting existing salaries to this pot is supplanting. And, is out of compliance with the law as allowable use for the dollars.

Q: Can you explain the performance-based portion of the Strong Workforce program that is scheduled to begin in 2017-18?

A: The statute introduces a workforce success and social mobility incentive into the formula for allocating 1/6th of the dollars starting the second year of Strong Workforce Program.  As a trade-off for offering unprecedented flexibility in the use of these dollars to drive more and better CTE, the Governor and Legislature incorporated this incentive to ensure that our colleges remain focused on delivering the much needed 1 million more industry-valued middle-skill credentials that served the goal of the Board of Governors Strong Workforce Task Force.

In order to advise the implementation of the workforce success and social mobility incentive, a stakeholder committee (to be called the ‘17% Committee’) is being formed to examine several possible several possible models across states for implementing incentives and advise on the roll out. The aim is to ensure there is fairness for the colleges while meeting the intent of the statute. The ASCCC has been invited to participate on this committee, which will not meet until early 2017.

Q: Can I hire (e.g., CTE faculty, CTE Deans, coordinators, job developers, counselors for CTE counseling, etc.) using the Strong Workforce Program funds?

A: It is your decision on how best to use the funds as long as you are driving more CTE and better CTE outcomes and adhering to the requirements of the trailer bill language.

We recommend that no less than 17% of your Local Share be kept flexible. This is because in year two, 17% of your Local Share is determined based on your college’s contributions to workforce outcomes. This variable is new in year two, and not in year one. Financially strong districts have a rule of thumb to not spend more than 75% of a categorical on personnel cost. In a few year's time, your CTE programs may need a monies retool/upgrade to keep them relevant. So, it is best to give yourself some financial flexibility by not committing all your Local Shares to ongoing personnel cost.

Q: Where can I find a copy of the Strong Workforce Program trailer bill language?

A: Click here for a pdf or word version.

Q: When will Local Share and Regional Share allocations be known?

A: View all posted allocations on the Strong Workforce page's Guidance block.

Q: What is the data source for modeling the allocations?

A: The trailer bill language specifies the factors and the weighting of the factors in determining the Local Shares and Regional Shares. The CCCCO has used EMSI five-year projections as the source for ‘projected job openings’. ESRI by zip code is the source for ‘unemployment’. ‘CTE FTES’ data is from 2014-15, which is the latest year of data provided by colleges to the CCCCO MIS system. The CCCCO does not need any data from colleges/districts to model the allocations.

Q: Will non-credit be included in the ‘CTE FTES’ calculations for allocations?

A: Yes, both non-credit and credit ‘CTE FTES’ are included.

Q: Will the local Strong Workforce funds come to the college as categorical?

A: Yes

Q: Are these ongoing funds?

A: Yes, every year, $248M in funds will be made available as a categorical to our system.

Q: Can we collect FTES apportionment on these CTE programs?

A: Yes, as long as some portion is funded by general funds and the district does not otherwise receive full compensation for the direct education costs of the course(s) from any public or private agency, individual, or group in accordance with Education Code Section 84752 and California Code of Regulations, Title 5 Section 58051.5. 

Q: How long do we have to spend the funds?

A: Strong Workforce Program allocations, both local and regional, base allocation and Incentive fund, must be spent within 30 months of the date expenditures are first authorized. Here are the dates for the first three years:

SWP allocation expenditure deadlines
Fiscal year in which funds were authorized Start Date End Date
2016-17 7/1/16 12/31/18
2017-18 7/1/17 12/31/19
2018-19 7/1/18 12/31/20

Q: What if I can’t figure out enough ways to use my 2016-17 Local Shares?

A: Your use of Local Share will be reviewed in year two and we will start a discussion with you to return funds halfway through year two if any are still uncommitted.

Q: With the development of new programs comes substantive change applications with the ACCJC. Not only is it time consuming for someone to prepare the substantive change documents, but they also have to pay a fee to ACCJC to process it. Can the Strong Workforce funds be used to pay for this?

A: It is your decision on how to use the funds as long as you are meeting the multiple measures of CTE outcomes and adhering to the requirements of the trailer bill language.

Q: Does the 50% law apply?

A: These are restricted categorical funds and therefore excluded from the 50% law.

Q: Does the FON apply?

A: If any staff hired is tenure track, that portion can count towards your FON.

Q: Who can be voting members of the CTE Consortium for the use of the Regional Shares of the $248M?

A: Trailer bill section 88823 under subdivision of bullet point (b), (2), states:  “Decisions governing, or relating to, the distribution of fiscal resources shall be determined exclusively by the community college districts participating in the consortium.” Each CTE Regional Consortia has or will post to their website the decision-making structure agreed upon by their participating colleges/districts.

Q: What are the TOP codes associated with “CTE FTES” in COMIS?  Isn’t there a data dictionary online?

A: TOP codes are identified as being Vocational (CTE), or not, in the TOP Code Manual.

Q: Where can find out more about the federal Workforce Innovation & Opportunities Act (WIOA)?

A: See helpful WIOA links.

Q: How should a multi-college district allocate Local Share funds between its colleges?

A: There are a number of methods districts have used to allocate Local Share funds between their colleges. Below are some examples:

  1. Allocate based on CTE FTES
  2. Allocate based on FTES
  3. Allocate based on weighting CTE FTES and FTES
  4. Allocated based on the same 3 variables as SWP: unemployment, projected job openings, CTE FTES

We’d note that while the simplest way to allocate resources if often through a formula, the expectations of policy makers is that our colleges and regions will be improving and expanding CTE programs that are most in demand based on labor market demand.  Therefore, it would be preferred that multi-college districts allocate funds to their colleges to address key labor market shortages, as opposed to simple formula.  These types of investments will lead to improved workforce outcomes, which will be a factor in fund allocation in 2017-18 and beyond.

The San Mateo Community College provided documentation on their methodology: see appendix 1 and appendix 2. Michelle Marquez, Canada College’s Vice President of Administrative Services at marquezmichelle@smccd.edu originated these documents and can be contacted for more information.

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The Opportunity
For community colleges to become essential catalysts to California’s economic recovery and jobs creation at the local, regional and state levels.

The Strategy
Doing What MATTERS for jobs and the economy is a four-pronged framework to respond to the call of our nation, state, and regions to close the skills gap. The four prongs are:

  • Give Priority for Jobs and the Economy
  • Make Room for Jobs and the Economy
  • Promote Student Success
  • Innovate for Jobs and the Economy
California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office