Advocacy and State Relations, The California State University

CSU Critical to State’s Continued Recovery

According to a new series published by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), the California State University is a crucial partner in ensuring the state has an adequate educated workforce over the next decade.

Projected Supply and Demand Graph shows an increase in demand for Bachelor's Degrees and decreased supply

SOURCE: “California Workforce: Planning for a Better Future” (Public Policy Institute of California, 2013).According to a new series published by the Public Policy Institute of California, the California State University will need to be a crucial partner in ensuring the state has an adequate and educated workforce over the next decade.

“For decades, California employers have needed more workers with college degrees. This shift toward more highly educated workers has occurred as a result of changes both within and across industries.”

Recognizing this shift, the CSU has worked vigorously to provide access and improve graduation rates to supply key industries with a highly skilled workforce. In fact, the CSU provides more than 50 percent of the graduates in hospitality and tourism, business, and agriculture.

But staggering cuts to the CSU’s budget of more than 30 percent over the last several years has impacted access when student demand is at an all-time high. It is the reason 43 percent of Californians view access to higher education as a “big problem.” According to the PPIC, the CSU has suffered a larger hit than other state supported entities.

SOURCE: Data from 2009. 2012–13 Budget: California Spending Plan, Legislative Analyst’s Office, September 2012. California Spending Plan 2009–10, November 2009; figure from “California Budget: Planning for a Better Future” (Public Policy Institute of California, 2013). NOTE: Change is calculated as the difference between the 2012–13 Budget Act and actual 2007–08 spending levels.

As a result, the rate of educated workers PPIC sees as essential to California’s industries by 2025 will slow.

According to the PPIC, “Education is essential to California’s economic well-being. Highly educated workers were somewhat protected from the impact of the Great Recession and are likely to do better during future boom and bust cycles. Promoting education is thus an important strategy for ensuring economic opportunity across the income spectrum and addressing income inequality.”

The CSU and public higher education are critical to California’s economic future:

  • Four of every five college students in California is enrolled in one of the state’s three public higher education systems;
  • The value of the college degree results in a 50 percent higher wage for workers over their peers who only hold a high school diploma; and
  • Nearly 90% of parents hope their child pursues a post high school education.

“Without concerted efforts to improve college attendance and graduation in California, the state’s economic future will be much less bright,” the PPIC report states. “Shortchanging education for quick budget fixes could seriously shortchange California’s economic future.”

The CSU is a part of the solution. The system’s efforts to improve graduation rates and ensure students are well prepared before enrolling for college level coursework will result in a pipeline of well-prepared graduates ready to enter the state’s workforce.

The key, however, will be steady and sustainable state funding. This, according to the PPIC report, will allow the CSU to provide “gradual increases in college enrollment rates, a 20 percent improvement in transfer rates, and an improvement in completion rat…reducing the skills gap by one-half by 2025.”

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