By Chris Yatooma
Candidate for Los Rios Community College Board of Trustees
Quality vocational education is a great but too often overlooked part of our community college system. About 70% of adults in Sacramento and El Dorado counties do not have a four-year degree. Thus the availability of occupation-specific technical training provides a key route to well-paying jobs that are essential to our communities and economy.
Unfortunately as a state and region, we are failing to provide enough vocational training programs to meet student and labor market needs.
For example, the Los Rios Community College District is the second-largest community college district in California. It stretches east from Davis across most of Sacramento and El Dorado counties to Lake Tahoe. Yet this huge district offers just two Associate Nursing Degree programs that combine for just 140 new slots a year. And do you know how many qualified students applied for those 140 slots each year? 1,000 students.
This also falls far short of the rising need for more nurses in California and nationally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Projections 2019-2029 lists Registered Nursing (RN) among the top growing occupations. By 2029, the RN workforce is expected to grow by 7% from 3 million to 3.3 million. Plus, the Bureau projects another 175,900 RN openings from retirements and workforce exits.
Los Rios can help meet the local nursing demand by expanding our nursing offerings and train more students every year. But we can only do that if we devote more funding to career education programs like nursing, which in California pays an average salary of more than $100,000 per year.
Similar problems exist in other vocational areas, such as for electricians, plumbers and roofers. High-salary green energy jobs like wind and solar installation technicians are another quickly growing area our community colleges should address more effectively.
I have spent 21 years working in the community college system and have long been disappointed by our inability to expand vocational education programs. This inspired me to run to become one of the seven Los Rios Board Trustees who must work to meet the needs of both our 75,000 annual enrollment and our labor markets.
Remember, our community colleges are the only part of our higher education system with “community” in the name. So together let’s work to ensure they meet as many of our community needs as possible.
Folsom resident Chris Yatooma is a candidate for the Los Rios Community College District Board of Trustees – Area 3. This seat represents parts of Folsom, Rancho Cordova and El Dorado County. For more info, visit YatoomaForTrustee.com.
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