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California’s Bold Step Towards Career Education Reform

By Kathy Saechou

“Some of the structures within our systems unintentionally block out the individuals they are intended to serve.  The end user needs to be driving, not the system.”

Ân Tạ, Program Specialist III/Administrator, Teaching & Learning at Yolo County Office of Education (Attendee)

On August 31, 2023, Governor Newsom signed an executive order to move forward a new career education initiative to prepare students and adults for a 21st century workforce, as well as reduce and remove employment and college degree barriers. The Governor’s executive order calls on education, workforce development and economic development leaders to coordinate with leaders of public education systems and employers to co-create a Master Plan on Career Education in the State of California. The Master Plan is intended to address the systemic barriers or pain points that continue to get in the way of Californians accessing high-paying and fulfilling careers. To jump start the effort, the Governor and his office are bringing students, adult learners, workers, employers, labor, and community-based organizations together with policymakers, educators, workforce training providers, and social service agencies across several regions in the state to provide input in shaping specific solutions.  

Valley Vision had the honor of presenting and joining a diverse group of career education partners on March 22nd at Sacramento State University’s Union to listen, learn and weigh in on the initiative’s priorities. Partners shared thoughts and recommendations in four key areas: state and regional coordination; career pathways; work-based learning, apprenticeships, and employer engagement; and access and affordability. Listed below are some of the specific recommended actions captured in the breakout sessions: 

  • More coordination is needed between adult education, community colleges and employers
  • Definitions of career readiness and career education are needed 
  • The current system needs a student-centered and data-aligned approach
  • Data sharing is critical
  • Continued non-competitive funding for Career Technical Education is needed
  • The Career Technical Education teacher shortage and salary needs to be addressed
  • The end user needs to be driving – not the system
  • Make career education a graduation requirement 

Current work on the Master Plan for Career Education includes four primary concepts: creating stronger coordination mechanisms, building skills based pathways, expanding work-based learning, and increasing access to public benefits and career pathways. According to the Governor’s Council on Career Education, the Master Plan is intended to be finalized in fall 2024 with specific recommended actions in each of the core concept areas.  Recommendations will be accompanied by proposed changes to statute, reallocation of funding streams, changes in agency responsibilities, and implementation suggestions for education, training, and social service providers.

Equitable access to living wage and fulfilling work requires ongoing collaboration between leaders of California’s education systems and workforce agencies. Valley Vision commends the Governor’s Office as they continue to work with partners across the state to catalyze economic mobility and prosperity for all. If you missed this in person event, a virtual session will be held on May 15th. Additionally, if your community or organization would like to meet with representatives of the Governor’s Master Plan for Career Education, or if you would like to share your specific recommendations or ideas, visit to learn more and provide your feedback.