What to make of an online community college enabling working adults to upskill and keep up with technology, as well as to enable low wage workers to advance in career ladders?
This past week, California newspapers trumpeted Governor Jerry Brown’s announcement of a large-scale online community college initiative aimed at achieving these goals. Open to all, the online community college would focus on adults 25 and older who have a high school degree and/or some college, but no college degree—estimated to number 2.5 million workers in California. As set out in a Department of Finance memo explaining the college, these workers, referred to in the memo as “stranded workers”, could take classes while they’re employed, and gain practical skills to move up in responsibilities and pay.
Attention should be paid, beyond California. The initiative is big—the Governor is asking for $100 million to start the online college, and $20 million per year to keep it going. It is meant to cover hundreds of thousands of workers, when up and going. More broadly, it is meant to provide a new means of educational access for working adults, and a new approach for strengthening the middle class.