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Practices with Promise Success Story

Submitted By: Jim Caldwell, Energy, Construction & Utilities

Super-Regional Collaborative Closes Skills Gaps

  • Type of Practice: Regional Collaboration
  • Type(s) of Users Served: Apprenticeship, External Certification Seekers, Faculty/Teachers, Higher Unit Certificate Students, Lifelong Learning Students, Skills-Builders Students
  • Sector(s): Energy, Construction & Utilities
  • Momentum Point(s) & Leading Indicators : MP 15, MP 16, MP 18, MP 27, MP 28, MP 29, MP 33, LI 1, LI 2, LI 3, LI 5, LI 6 (click here for description)
  • Regions Involved: Inland Empire/Desert, Los Angeles
  • Colleges Involved: College of the Desert, Cypress College, El Camino College, LA Trade-Tech College, Mt San Antonio College, Orange Coast College, Riverside City College

The Challenge

Colleges in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties were not meeting the regional industry need for Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration workers (HVACR). With employment demand increasing, the gap became substantial across seven colleges offering HVACR certificate and degree programs. Students were missing opportunities for high wage jobs and employers were confused about where to recruit qualified job candidates. A lack of articulation agreements constrained incumbent worker progress toward certificates or degrees.

The need for change in this environment was driven by a California Public Utilities Commission mandate for industry and utilities to implement a statewide HVACR "sector strategy".

The Solution

A new paradigm was created by viewing the pipeline of students moving through the region’s community colleges as a whole, within which student learning outcomes are closely aligned with industry needs. The seven colleges formed the Southern California Regional HVACR Collaborative with key industry stakeholders and standardized on two industry-recognized certifications as the basis for common student outcomes and articulation. Apprenticeship programs for HVACR and building operations became active members of the collaborative.

Professional development for faculty was introduced to assure linkage to industry trends. An "employer ecosystem" gives employers insights into college programs, supporting more robust and informed recruiting.


Although the first year's impact will be seen in 2015-16 completer data, this Collaborative enabled better-informed investment of Prop 39 funds and attracted $800K in CTE Enhancement Funds.

The Collaborative has been recognized by the utilities as a model for the state to implement the CPUC's "sector strategy"mandate, especially in its mission to bridge critical workforce gaps. Influential stakeholder groups participating in the Collaborative are BOMA California, the Western HVAC Performance Alliance, and the International Facility Management Association, along with major statewide employers.

The Collaborative also triggered research into strategies for higher student completions and industry-valued credentials through UC Davis.

The Data

Community colleges, Apprenticeship programs, and private training institutions award 600 HVACR certificates annually, about half of the regional requirement across the four counties. Most of the 24,000 incumbent workers employed in this region lack the knowledge and skills to do code compliant work in support of the state's energy efficiency mandates.

California needs a workforce capable of supporting AB 32, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, and its associated legislation. One requirement is that 50% of the state's commercial floor space - about 4 billion square feet - achieve "Zero Net Energy" by 2030. The challenge/opportunity spans the state's Advanced Energy workforce of 178,000, with 15,000 annual job openings .

Supporting Information

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Common Metrics

Leading Indicators

LI 1 Alignment of skillsets within a program (or set of courses) to a particular occupation and the needs of the labor market
LI 2 Regionalization of stackable certificates aligned with a particular occupation ladder
LI 3 Alignment of a certificate with state-, industry-, nationally-, and/or employer- recognized certification
LI 4 Creation of a credit certificate from non-credit certificate
LI 5 Curriculum articulation along a career or multi-career educational pathway
LI 6 Updating the skills of faculty, teachers, counselors, and/or “supporting staff to student” to reflect labor market needs
LI 7 Integration of small business creation and/or exporting modules into for-credit curriculum in other disciplines

Momentum Points

Middle School Cluster
MP 1Completed an individual career and skills awareness workshop in middle school that included a normed assessment process and was in a Doing What Matters priority or emerging sector
Transition from Middle School to High School
MP 2Completed a bridge program between middle school and high school and revised student career/education plan
MP 3Completed a student orientation and assessment program while in middle school or high school
High School Cluster
MP 4Completed one course in high school within a CTE pathway
MP 5Completed two or more courses in high school within a CTE pathway
MP 6Completed a CTE articulated course
MP 6aSuccessfully completed a CTE dual enrollment course or credit by exam, with receipt of transcripted credits
MP 7Completed a program in high school within a CTE pathway
Transition from High School to College Cluster
MP 8Completed a bridge program between high school and college in a CTE pathway
MP 9Completed college orientation and assessment as a first-time community college student who entered a community college CTE pathway
MP 10Transitioned from a high school CTE pathway to a similar community college CTE pathway
MP 11Transferred from a high school CTE pathway to a similar CSU, UC or private/independent university CTE pathway
MP 12Completed a counselor-approved college education plan, for first-time community college students who enter a CTE pathway
MP 13During high school, participated in an internship, work-based learning, mentoring, or job shadowing program in a CTE pathway
MP 14Percentage of community college students, who participated in a high school CTE pathway, whose first math or English course was below transfer-level
Community College Cluster
MP 15Completed two courses in the same CTE pathway
MP 16Retention rate between Fall and Spring within a CTE pathway
MP 17Completed a non-CCCCO-approved certificate within a CTE pathway
MP 18Completed a CCCCO-approved certificate within a CTE pathway
General Education and Transfer Progress Cluster
MP 19Completed a work readiness soft skills training program (either stand-alone or embedded) within a CTE pathway
MP 20Completed college level English and/or math, for students in a CTE pathway
MP 21Completed the CSU-GE or IGETC transfer track/certificate for students in a CTE pathway
MP 22Completed requirements in a CTE pathway, but did not receive a certificate or a degree
MP 23Completed an associate degree in a CTE major
MP 24Completed an associate degree in a major different from student’s college CTE pathway
MP 25Transferred from community college to a four-year university in the same CTE pathway
MP 26Transferred from community college to a four-year university in a major different from their CTE pathway
Community College Transition To Workforce Cluster
MP 27Participated in a college internship or workplace learning program within a CTE pathway
MP 28Attained a job placement in the same or similar field of study as CTE pathway
MP 29Acquired an industry-recognized, third-party credential
Workforce Progress Cluster
MP 30Attained a wage gain in a career in the same or similar CTE pathway
MP 31Attained wages equal to or greater than the median regional wage for that CTE pathway
MP 32Attained wages greater than the regional standard-of-living wage
MP 33Participated in incumbent worker training or contract education in a CTE pathway (for example training for layoff aversion, meeting heightened occupational credentialing requirement, transitioning employees whose occupations are being eliminated, or up-skilling existing employees)
MP 34Exception


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