IMPERIAL — Imperial Valley College is one of a coalition of community colleges in San Diego and Imperial counties that received a $1.4 million grant to better prepare students for future careers.
The three-year state Career Pathways grant will focus on providing training for job sectors thought to have the potential for the most growth in the region. Money from the grant will also be used to align the training and education programs between the nine community colleges and San Diego and Imperial counties’ middle and high schools to ensure that programs are teaching skills students need most to learn for emerging jobs.
The region is qualified to establish the program because the community colleges in the two counties – Grossmont, Cuyamaca, Southwestern, Palomar, San Diego City, San Diego Mesa, Mira Costa, Miramar and Imperial Valley – are all members of the San Diego and Imperial County Community College Association, a 50-year-old coalition that works to serve the area’s 150,000 community college students.
Grossmont College President Sunny Cooke worked to help the association obtain the grant, and is also serving on a statewide advisory board to help other regions create similar workforce training programs. The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District will be responsible for administering the grant funds.
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office challenged community colleges throughout the state to determine which workforce sectors will show the most growth and have the greatest need for more trained workers. The regional consortium for San Diego and Imperial counties determined that they should focus on training for jobs in transportation and renewables, health, and biotech, as well as advanced manufacturing and information communications technology/digital media.
The Career Pathways grant will also be used for the community colleges to collaborate with each other and middle and high schools in the region to ensure all are teaching students the same lessons. Currently, a middle or high school student interested in the health care field might find that the focus of classes offered at community colleges differs from what they’ve been taught.
Community colleges will also work together to align the programs and training they offer to students preparing for jobs, so students would be able to transfer seamlessly from one college to another.
Representatives from the community colleges will meet with businesses in the region to learn more about the training needs for their workforce, according to Mary Wylie, a retired Southwestern College dean who is the chair of the Regional Consortium for the San Diego-Imperial County region. Wylie said a regional committee will ensure the colleges are offering the same kind of programs that companies need.
“Businesses just want us to send them good employees,” she said.