Testimony: Transfer Is Key to Closing the Workforce Skills Gap

California faces a shortage of highly educated workers. Specifically, economic projections to 2030 show that about two in five jobs will require at least a bachelor’s degree, while demographic projections suggest that only about one in three Californians will attain this level of education. This shortfall equates to 1.1 million workers. To close the gap, all higher education systems will need to play a role, increasing access, transfer, and completion. Improving access and outcomes among groups historically underrepresented in higher education—including low-income students, first-generation college students, Latinos, and African Americans—is essential if we are to close the workforce skills gap.

. . . In this testimony, I will focus on the importance of transfer. California enrolls a disproportionate share of students in community college. We rank 47th in the nation in the share of recent high school graduates enrolling in four-year colleges and 5th in the nation in the share enrolling in community colleges. This means that we must do more to ensure that community college students reach their educational goals—since the vast majority of recent high school graduates attending community colleges say that they want to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree. As shown in the chart below, there is a lot of room for improvement—only 40% of recent high school graduates who go to community college will end up transferring to a four-year institution.

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