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Building Resilience: Orange County’s Community College Career Education Deans Look to the Future Feature Story

November 30, 2020
Orange County Community College Career Education Deans

Orange County’s community college career education deans play a critical leadership role as they guide their programs with an eye to regional economic and workforce development needs. This month, we asked them to reflect on what they’re excited about in the coming year and the role that career education will play in the region’s economic recovery. Here’s what they said.

Coastline College

Dr. Shelly Blair, Dean, Innovative Learning & Career Education

Name one of your college’s CTE program’s that you are especially excited about in 2021 and why?

 “We have a number of exciting programs moving forward, and I am particularly excited about digital media production. It’s a great career focused certificate that working adults can take and quickly be ready for a career. We have integrated drone imaging and are launching a course in Toon Boom in 2021 so students will be on the cutting edge of the field.”

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

 “Career education programs are vital to our workforce. As we recover, we will encounter a changed landscape of jobs. Even previously non-technical jobs now have technical elements. For example, managing a restaurant now includes managing online order systems. Career Education will help our workforce transition to the ‘new normal’ of more remote work.”

Cypress College

Dr. Kathleen Reiland, Dean, Career Technical Education & Economic Development

 COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

 “The thing about building strong career education programs is that it can take many years of collaboration with industry and educators to create and sustain viable programs. I am very proud of the way my Cypress College CTE faculty have rallied to support our programs and our students during these challenging times.”

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

 “Career education creates equity opportunities for students. In a 2019 study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, they found community colleges and many certificate programs have the highest ROI (return on investment) in the short term. In the short term (10 years), community colleges, other two-year institutions, and many certificate programs have the highest return on investment  because they generate strong earnings quickly after students finish their credentials. With less debt and stronger earnings, students have the opportunity to scaffold their work experience while continuing their education to complete a bachelor’s degree for higher ROI over 40 years.”

Fullerton College

Ken Starkman, Dean, Technology and Engineering Division

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

“When the college shut down for a few days this past spring the faculty pivoted immediately to remote instruction.  This was a huge amount of work and it was accomplished quickly and effectively as possible. Student access to unique software programs was a huge challenge.  The IT department worked with faculty to allow student access to ‘remote in’ to the classroom computers.  This has been very helpful to students with limited resources.

Name one of your college’s CTE program’s that you are especially excited about in 2021 and why?

 “Using Strong Workforce Program Covid-19 Project funds the Architecture Program is working to implement a very high tech remote instruction environment that is likely to transform instruction in that program well into the future.”

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

“Every organization will be undergoing great change. Career education is an agent of workforce change and essential to every recovering economy.”

Golden West College

Dorsie Brooks, Career Education Grants and Special Projects Coordinator

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

“Golden West College is extremely proud of the faculty and staff who have made it possible for students to safely continue their education even in a pandemic. CTE programs that have typically never been taught online have moved to that format and students are able to progress in their educational and career goals. The hard work of faculty and staff has made this possible. For example, a major challenge that our Nursing program faced was ensuring that current students receive their clinical hours and have the appropriate in person training in real work environments. The faculty had to work quickly to provide alternate opportunities for these students and now GWC Nursing students are deployed around the county assisting with the pandemic testing efforts and vaccinations.”

Name one of your college’s CTE program’s that you are especially excited about in 2021 and why?

“GWC is excited to launch the Health Information Technology program in Fall 2021! This will be the college’s first Allied Health program and will provide essential workforce training for high wage, high demand careers.”

Irvine Valley College

Debbie Vanschoelandt, Dean, Career and Continuing Education, and Integrated Design, Engineering and Automation (IDEA)

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

The CE faculty at Irvine Valley College did a fabulous job responding to the pandemic and the need to move all coursework to an online format.  Faculty spent countless hours modifying their courses and labs while maintaining quality of instruction and a steadfast focus on student success.  I am incredibly proud of their dedication to their programs, each other and, most importantly, to their students.

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

CE programs will be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery but are equally as important now.  CE programs prepare students to meet the demands of the workforce by providing students with an opportunity to gain the real-world skills and technical knowledge needed for high-wage, high-demand careers..  Our CE programs will be ready to support and engage with our industry partners to aid in the economic recovery of the county, while also ensuring our students complete their career goals and find gainful employment.

North Orange Continuing Education

Raine Hambly, Director, Career Technical Education Programs

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

“I am extremely proud of the North Orange Continuing Education (NOCE) Career Technical Education faculty’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NOCE was at a huge disadvantage when the pandemic hit and all in-person classes moved online, because we did not have an operational distance education program. We were in the midst of finalizing our distance education program to pilot in Fall 2020. The CTE faculty were amazing though and didn’t skip a beat. They converted all of their spring classes to online within three weeks and began training over the summer and fall term to become certified to teach distance education moving forward. NOCE’s CTE faculty continue their dedication to student success and ensure all of our students are afforded the best opportunities possible.”

What is a challenge created by the pandemic that one of your programs encountered and how have you overcome it?

“As a noncredit institution dedicated to adult education, our biggest challenge was helping our students gain access to the technology and skills needed to continue their education online. In an effort to better assist students, NOCE setup a laptop loan program; converted our Business/Computer Skills Lab into an Zoom/phone technical assistance center; and created an online Canvas course for the lab to help create a resource area for students on anything from learning the basic of Canvas to access to LinkedIn Learning videos.”

Orange Coast College

Lisa F. Knuppel, Dean, Career Education/Career Services; Dean (Interim), Business & Computing Division

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

“Our CTE faculty responded with incredible creativity and a spirit of compassion for students who were caught in the disruption and anxiety of the sudden COVID shutdown.  Faculty put their own needs second to those of their students and pitched in above and beyond the call of duty to support student success under the most difficult circumstances. For example, OCC has a highly regarded, popular and award-winning Culinary Arts program, and the shutdown and requirement for remote instruction seemed like it might be an impossible barrier for the culinary students.  But the faculty responded creatively and quickly, devising a system and means to create kits that included tools and ingredients that students could pick up and use at home to complete their hands-on assignments and practice their skills.  Faculty put together a team and a system for contactless pick-up of the kits for students.  It was and still is an amazing response and effort that is allowing those students to continue and excel in their programs, despite the remote instruction situation.”

Saddleback College

John A. Jaramillo, Dean, Economic and Workforce Development and Business Sciences

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

“In California, a pre-virus study by the McKinsey Global Institute projected job growth through 2030 for health professionals, STEM fields, alternative energy, professional jobs in service fields including managers, and in education – fields requiring some higher education or graduate degrees. Before the realities of the pandemic, big declines were already predicted for office clerks, retail salespeople, farmworkers, cashiers, food workers, waiters, secretaries and administrative assistants. What is clear is that Orange County residents will generally need greater access to higher education and technical vocational training programs, not less, even if it includes a more on-line, more socially distant experience. That said, a one size fits all approach of full-term onsite classes with heavy lab hours and rigid series of prerequisites will not be the solution.  Flexible approaches to learning including awarding degree applicable credits for multiple types of work-based learning, industry certifications, prior learning, military education and employer contributed training is an imperative.  Life does not slow down for anyone.  Education must keep pace.”

Santa Ana College

Dr. Larisa Sergeyeva, Dean, Human Services and Technology

What is a challenge created by the pandemic that one of your programs encountered and how have you overcome it?

 “Our Spring 2020 Fire Academy was impacted by early COVID restrictions. Due to the foresight of our Academy Director Fred Ramsey and his earlier “online teaching certification”, the Fire Academy was able to seamlessly transition to Remote Live Instruction for an appropriate time. During that period, another SWP funded project out of our Wellness Program was able to modify one of our existing tools to create a mobile app-based home COVID screening tool. The app was fast tracked, developed, customized and deployed within 5 days. Students were shown how to utilize the app and returned to safe and limited necessary face-to-face small socially distanced group instruction. This team-based rapid development and safe implementation allowed us to graduate our Spring 2020 Fire Academy on schedule and ready to address this summer and fall’s extreme fire season.”

Name one of your college’s CTE program’s that you are especially excited about in 2021 and why?

“I am especially excited about our Fire Technology’s Wellness program in 2021. Our Fire Technology and Wellness programs continue to experience a huge demand. As local first responders are continually stretched beyond due to COVID-19, weather events, rising retirements, and other emergencies, our Wellness Program with over 30 years of data and experience is perfectly positioned to enhance and continue providing education and training in physical wellness, fitness, and health, recovery, injury prevention, rapid rehabilitation, and wearable technology. The program’s work in the technology area are also cutting edge. One example is our Fire Academy – it is the first fire academy in the country to have an app-based Daily Wellness tool for students/recruits that is also used by academy staff to assist with student success.”

Santiago Canyon College

Elizabeth Arteaga, Dean, Business & Career Education

COVID-19 has created significant challenges for career ed programs. Are you proud of the way your programs have responded and adapted to the pandemic and why?

We are proud of the way all of our programs responded. We have been able to offer courses remotely and face-to-face for our field labs.  Our team responded and adapted to the challenges of the pandemic positively. Humanizing the online environment has been our priority and we have become creative in modifying class work for online environment. For example, one of our challenges have been test proctoring. Our tireless accounting professors solved this by investing countless hours working with publishers and IT to provide a high-quality environment for proctoring exams.

Will career education programs be important to Orange County’s post-COVID economic recovery and why?

 Career education will be critical to the recovery of our economy. Many people have lost employment and are looking to reeducate themselves in a short period of time to be able to get back into the workforce.  Also, Orange County needs technicians in the fields like public works, water treatment, and land surveying in order to continue maintaining and supporting our communities.

To learn more about Orange County’s many career education programs and the opportunities they can provide students and professionals at any level, please visit FutureBUILT.org.