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Students that don’t work for a degree can still increase their wages

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California Community Colleges for the 2013-14 year have helped to increase overall wages of students who take classes that build on their skills by almost $500 million, according to a press release from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

These students, called skill builders, take community college classes to either build on job skills or refresh their memory on skills they have already learned. On average, these students have seen nearly a 14 percent increase in their wages after taking just one or two classes, said California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris in a teleconference on March 3.

Previously there was not any way to track these skill builder students so there wasn’t evidence proving students benefit coming to community colleges to advance their skills until recently, said CCCCO Vice Chancellor of Communications Paul Feast.

“We finally have a way to measure these successes and demonstrate the tremendous return on investment that these courses provide. A wage gain of $4,300 for courses that cost $46 a unit is a phenomenal value for students and the state,” Harris said.

This is big news for the skill builders students as they now get the recognition of being successful. Previously only those students that have completed a degree have been recognized as successful by the college which has affected the college’s accountability, Harris said.

We finally have a way to measure these successes and demonstrate the tremendous return on investment that these courses provide. A wage gain of $4,300 for courses that cost $46 a unit is a phenomenal value for students and the state.”

— California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris

This benefits not only students, but the state of California as a whole.

“California has experienced a nearly $500 million shot in the arm,” Harris said.

Jeff Strohl, director of research at the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said that he is very happy with this new information being released and that other states should start to promote skill builder students as well.

“California’s work on skills builders leads the nation in innovation and cutting-edge thinking,” said Strohl. “State after state have been focusing on understanding sub-baccalaureate education, but very few, if any, have jumped into evaluating the population of non-completers in this way.”

Although these skill builder students won’t be earning a degree or receive a certificate, Harris said that is important to recognize why these students came to the community college system in the first place.

“These students are accomplishing exactly why they came to us,” Harris said. “We often have concerns expressed by legislature and policy makers and by members of the media that we have too many students that aren’t exceeding.”

What these new numbers are showing is that these students are exceeding even though they don’t earn a degree or credential.

“If a student comes to us to learn skills in welding and they go back to their job in the shipyards in San Diego and they’re a better welder and receive a promotion as a result of this, that is a success for that student and frankly, for California as well,” Harris said.

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Students that don’t work for a degree can still increase their wages