Although the Civil Grand Jury identified several barriers in making City College an effective partner in San Francisco’s workforce development efforts, administration is still hoping this is their year of breakthrough.
Need for Review
The rise of unemployment and faculty cuts combined with low enrollment have led the San Francisco Civil Grand Jury to conduct a workforce development review of City College. Once their report was conducted, The Board of Trustees was given 60 days to submit a response either accepting the findings of the investigation or, alternatively, contesting the report. The eight findings and recommendations of the report were then discussed at a board meeting on Aug. 26.
The Civil Grand Jury is comprised of 19 representing members of the City and County of San Francisco. They function to investigate the operations of various officers, departments and agencies of San Francisco.
Director of Media, Government Relations and Marketing, Rosie Zepeda said in an email response that the trustees and administrations response to the report were “one and the same.”
Board of Trustees member, Thea Selby reiterated that she found the report “incredibly illuminating,” as she averred to not understanding why the importance of City College had not been more represented.
Selby said, “I have been confused and wondering why it seems like we don’t have very much of a connection with the Office of Economic & Workforce Development, why our programs don’t flourish, why there aren’t more jobs for our students … I think there’s so much opportunity here for us to do a better job on our side and a better job on their side.”
The report found that City College was unfortunately underutilized by the workforce establishment, further exacerbating its declining enrollment. Therefore the report identified four areas of improvement for City College were stated as: 1) organization and collaboration 2) access to programs 3) supportive services 4) outreach and marketing.
Zepeda stated in an email response that, “Most of the changes will take time to come to fruition, but the College has established a working team that is meeting regularly to ensure that we address all findings/recommendations in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development where applicable.”
During the Aug. 26 Board of Trustees Meeting, Trustee Thomas Temprano said, “I think it would be a benefit to the city to help adequately resource us [City College], to get the word out about these amazing workforce programs whether it’s through OEWD partners or other marketing mechanisms.”
Being that the OEWD is an organization which aims to provide San Francisco residents with the resources to land entry-level jobs, City College would greatly benefit from the relationship. As recognized in the report, helping students find entry-level work is a worthy goal.
The Civil Grand Jury’s report includes a case study demonstrating how established programs lead to successful student outcomes. The Construction Administration and Professional Services Academy (CAPSA), sponsored by OEWD, has graduated over 300 students since its inception in 2009. This program achieved a 69% job-placement rate for its graduating students, according to the report.
As stated, many students who complete the program continue with the Construction Management certificate program at City College.
This partnership would be imperative to students’ success, as achieving meaningful and well-paying work is essential to offsetting the high cost of living in The Bay Area. Continuing to offer free tuition along with certificate and degree programs will only continue to help elevate students into today’s competitive workforce.
During the board meeting, Temprano went on to say, “We’re going to need support, like that’s part of what the partnership needs to be. If we are going to be the premier workforce training engine for the city and particularly in construction, and automotive – all of these important jobs that just require us to do things that fiscally are really a challenge for us – we need the city’s partnership, especially given our budget situation to be able to even increase the work we’re doing.”
This includes representation on policy committees and task forces, flexibility in scheduling, alignment of financial incentives, increased supportive services, and additional outreach and marketing.
Faculty and staff echoed the hope that this is an opportunity for more future funding, as Zepeda reiterated that “stable funding is critically needed.”