Report Heralds Value, Vitality of O.C. Career Education Feature Story

September 07, 2018

In the race to keep pace with California’s fast-evolving workforce demands, Orange County’s community colleges are on the right track.

The 2018 Economic Impact Report, released in July, confirms the economic viability and value of the region’s nine colleges and one stand-alone continuing education center, and casts those institutions as essential catalysts in the future of Orange County industry.

“The main positives concentrate on the overall value that Orange County Community Colleges provide to our community,” said Dr. Gustavo Chamorro, Orange County Director of the Los Angeles/Orange County Regional Consortium. “Whether taken from a student, taxpayer or society perspective, the investments made in our community colleges pay off some great dividends that benefit all of our stakeholders.”

The report touched on the employability, salary arc, and impact on the regional economy of Orange County community college degree and certificate holders. Among the findings:

  • Orange County community colleges serve more than 300,000 students, and employ more than 9,000 community members.
  • The average Associate degree holder in Orange County earns $46,800 per year – about 22% more than the average high school grad with no college.
  • Orange County community colleges support 82,551 jobs in the region, for a total of $6.4 billion in added regional income.
  • Community colleges, especially Career Education, are a bargain for the community, yielding a 9.6% return on investment to taxpayers and a 13.5% rate of return for students.
  • Community colleges in the region hold economic benefits for students, taxpayers, and the community valued at billions of dollars every year, through direct and “ripple” effects.

In the region’s struggle to overcome the impending “skills gap” – a national shortage of college-educated career professionals expected to hit Orange County especially hard — Career Education programs are especially critical. In fact, the vast majority of the 82,000+ jobs supported by Orange County community colleges fall into Career Education sectors, with Accommodation & Food Services, Professional & Technical Services, and Health Care & Social Assistance comprising the top-three.

It’s a big responsibility, with enormous stakes. But according to Chamorro, the report proves that Orange County’s community colleges are up to the challenge.

“This is encouraging for Career Education in our county due to our colleges’ continuous efforts to get our students “college and career ready,” he said. “It shows that we are on the right track, as we are providing our students with the tools needed to reach their personal and professional goals.”