Santa Rosa Junior College honored about 3,200 students with certificates for having successfully completed one or more of its 150 career technical education, or CTE, programs.
Over 50 percent of SRJC students are currently enrolled in one or more CTE courses. The college has awarded approximately 3,000 certificates annually over the past three years, the second-highest total among all community colleges in California.
“This celebration acknowledges the hard work that or CTE students have done to accomplish their educational goals,” said Jerry Miller, senior dean of CTE and economic development at SRJC. “For years SRJC has offered programs that lead to high-wage, high-demand jobs. We are as committed as ever to offering the best education and training that meets the needs of industry.”
These programs — ranging from agriculture and natural resources to work experience — are found within 14 campus departments and reflect the current needs of the workplace as well as emerging job categories. Career-oriented certificate categories include public safety and administration of justice, health sciences, automotive technology, and culinary arts and hospitality.
Pharmacy technician courses are among the top 20. Also popular are viticulture and wine studies, teacher training, human resources, natural resources management, machine tool technology, computer studies, child development and a number of business-related administrative skill areas. Those are a few of the more than 12 dozen CTE courses currently offered.
A statewide survey shows that students who complete a CTE certificate at a California community college nearly double their precertificate earnings after five years in the workplace. About 44 percent of those who achieve certificates earn $56,000 or more annually, and 24 percent earn $79,000 or more after this initial period.
Kicking off the college's third annual Celebrate CTE event May 25 to fete certificate recipients, Miller appealed to those seeking higher paying jobs in the greater Santa Rosa and Sonoma County area to “enroll now and help rebuild your community. For those of you in the millennial generation, here’s your chance to change the world.”
He countered the perception held by some that these are low-end jobs. Carpenters building homes in Santa Rosa's wildfire-devastated Coffey Park, for example, are earning upwards of $60 per hour, equivalent to $2,400 per week or $9,600 a month.
Miller admitted that before the October wildfires, SRJC’s CTE curriculum was not addressing the needs of the building trades.
“We are now,” he said. “We have to be flexible to respond to community and business demand and ride with the tide. This means taking a hard look at the courses we offer to see which ones to keep and which ones to modify, eliminate or replace.”
Since the fires, SRJC has collaborated with local construction leaders, high school CTE teachers and regional union officials to place increased emphasis on courses focusing on the construction trades.
SRJC’s regional adult education programs, headed by Nancy Miller, recently received a $6 million grant, working with the Sonoma County Economic Development Board and Habitat for Humanity to build a construction site to train workers for the panelized home construction field, according to Ellen Maremont Silver, director of communications and marketing at SRJC. Building is expected to begin by the end of July.
SRJC also received $3.8 million from the California Community Colleges CTE Strong Workforce program and $639,690 from Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act federal programs, known collectively as Perkins CTEA for the 2017–2018 fiscal year. The Strong Workforce grant goes from July 1, 2016, to the end of this calendar year.