The Rant

A New Masterplan for Career Education in California - A Conversation with Ben Chida, Advisor for Gov. Gavin Newsom

November 14, 2023 Eloy Oakley/Ben Chida Season 2 Episode 7
The Rant
A New Masterplan for Career Education in California - A Conversation with Ben Chida, Advisor for Gov. Gavin Newsom
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, I present an interview I did as part of a video series for College Futures Foundation, my employer.  I interviewed Ben Chida, Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary & Senior Advisor for Cradle to Career in governor Gavin Newsom's administration. Ben and I talk about Governor Newsom's executive order calling for a new California Masterplan for Career Education. Ben describes this effort and why this is a priority for the governor. For more information about the Newsom Administration's effort on career education you can visit careereducation. gov. ca. gov.

Samson Q2U Microphone & NexiGo N950P 4K Webcam-1:

Hi, this is Laura. And welcome back to the ramp, the podcast, where we pull back the curtain. And break down the people, the policies and the politics of our higher education system. In this episode. I want to take a step back and present to you. an interview I did. through my employer, college futures foundation. With Ben cheetah, a senior policy advisor to governor Gavin Newsome. We talk about the governor's executive order calling for a new master plan for career education in California. And as many of, you know, California's well known for its higher education master plan, which really carved out a special place in the country for higher education, where the California community colleges to California state university and the university of California worked closely together. To support the needs of California. But governor Newsome saw that there needed to be. An additional part of this master plan. One that is focused on career education. So I had the opportunity to sit down with Ben cheetah and interview him. As part of a video series that we do at college futures. I'm going to present that to you here with the permission of college futures, because I think it's a great opportunity for. Our listeners to hear more about what's happening in California and specifically what governor Gavin Newsome is trying to do with the higher education system here in California, and to focus. On careers to focus on skills. And to focus on created a new ecosystem in California. That's a ports. Working learners that supports people in the workforce. And that tries to continue to support. the economy here in California. So take a listen. I hope you enjoy the interview.

Eloy & Ben:

On August 31st, Governor Gavin Newsom signed an executive order launching a new master plan for career education to better prepare students and adults for the workforce of tomorrow. Ben Chita, who is the Chief Deputy Cabinet Secretary and Senior Advisor for Cradle to Career in Governor Gavin Newsom's office, is here with us to talk more about it. Now, let's jump right into it. Ben, welcome to Opportunity Forum with College Futures. Thanks, Eli. Thanks so much for having me. I'm so thrilled to be talking to you and your audience about this topic. I'm really, really thrilled and excited to jump right in. Great. Well, we here at College Futures really appreciate you taking the time to be with us. We're really focused on California learners, centering the learner and ensuring they have an opportunity for the economic mobility that they deserve and that we as Californians want from them. So, Governor recently signed this executive order, and in the words of the Governor, let me quote him. California is leveraging billions of dollars in investments to prepare students and workers for good paying, long lasting, and fulfilling careers. So this is in the governor's words himself, but Ben, can you talk a little bit about this executive order and give our audience a little bit more specifics about what this actually entails? Yeah, I'll jump off right from the governor's words, right? So the leveraging billions of dollars. So what he's referring to there is over the past five years, when I've been with the governor, we've invested roughly 40 billion, 50 billion in a variety of education and workforce initiatives. You've heard about all sorts of them, whether it's dual enrollment or whether it's about, you know, uh, College core or the compacts on the road map, we've done quite a bit already. And as you noted as well, I'm the governor's senior advisor for cradle to career. So I've been as cradle to career person for five years now. And I just, I have a bit of gloomy news, which is despite. the tens of billions of dollars in reinvestment, we are on track for, at best, I would say, incremental progress. And, uh, it's heartbreaking to say, especially given all the work that's been, I know has been done, but we are currently on track for incremental progress is, uh, what we are, uh, is the reality of it. We have 38 months left, at least in the Newsom administration, to do something about that, to do a little bit more. to try to strive for more than mere incremental progress. So the executive order really kicks off the next 38 months of our work. That's focused on two things. The first is let's do a good job with that couple tens of billions of dollars, right? It's important for us to optimize and actually implement those dollars in a way that is real and actually leads to real life impacts on students and families lives. If we cannot do that, then people lose faith in public investments altogether. And the reality of it is, and we all know this, is even though we invest tens of billions here or there, all that money gets shunted into deeply inadequate Outdated siloed out systems. So step first thing that we want to do in the next 38 months is really, really pull the tables together between UC, CSU, community colleges, labor agency, everybody who ought to be part of this conversation from fiddle to career and try to just make better use of and implement better the funds that we've put into place, that step. The second, second step is really let's. Start reengineering these systems. We all inherited these systems that were not built for us to succeed or our students and families to succeed. And so at the same time, as we're trying to optimize the existing programs and, you know, policies that we've already put into place, let's do even better than that. Let's start to examine the foundational structures that we have in place, and let's see how far we can get in digging out some of those structures and redoing them so that we're actually updated for 2023. And so the executive order focuses on three things in particular, and it's across silos. Again, I'm the pivotal to career person. This is one of the big ideas that I've got Governor Newsom is we don't think from a K 12 perspective person or workforce perspective. This is a ninth grade through basically, or well, it's a, it's a critical career, but really the element of it is for us ninth grade through to Basically, like we should be supporting you Your whole life from that moment on and so we, the executive order focuses, our work on three things. One is careers, two is skills, three is access. And so let me dig into those a little bit. On careers. One thing that we need to focus in on is getting our education systems, K 12 beyond, to focus better on the careers. Second thing is skills. So this is about empowerment. We're talking a lot about skills and policy right now, but I just want to distill it down to the basic, which is we do not currently give workers in our economy, any tools to understand what power and value they have, i. e. what skills they have and how it. Corresponds to the real world and what employers want right now, we leave everyone shooting in the dark and employers are sitting at one side of the table with all the power and all the information and individuals have no sense of what skills they have to the table, what those skills mean in terms of value, you know, market value and things like that. So we just have to build a better architecture that enables people to navigate. Here are the skills I got. Here's how it corresponds to the real world. And here's how I could build those skills to actually navigate the real world better and better and better. Empowerment is what it's really about. And lastly, access. So you've said this, so you're the sort of one of the, I think most clear thinkers on this topic, which is our systems were built, especially higher ed with exclusion in mind, exclusion and, you know, filtering and sorting. And, you know, it was built On principles of inaccess more than principles of access. So we really have to look at all of our systems and think, how do we flip that logic? How do we think to ourselves the way to community colleges always have, which is how do we support any student who comes in through the door and make sure that their needs are being met, as opposed to how do we focus in on everyone competing for the tiniest slice of people who perfected their high school transcripts and who improve your, you know, your, your metrics and whatnot. So Yeah, Those are the three things, careers, skills, and access is really where we need to push all of our systems more towards. And I'll wrap what people should generally kind of expect is the overall arc, the 38 months remaining in the news administration. Here's what I want to do. Like I said, we want to really get tables together. So we're focusing the systems to actually implement on what exists. What people should expect on the audience as who's listening to this right now should expect is Jan 10, 2024, the governor will propose some additional things on education and workforce that will kind of move the ball forward a little bit more. Um, and then October, November 2024, we're going to actually. Publish what we're going to call the master plan for career education. This is going to be really governor Newsom's vision co created with everybody with stakeholders and with the systems themselves. And then basically what people should expect is, uh, you know, from fall 2024 through, you know, December 2026. This is what we're going to be trying to drive. Do that, you know, 2025 budget and policy cycles, the 2026 budget and policy cycles. That gives us two good budget and policy cycles to see how far we can take the vision before we're booted out of office. let me pull on a couple of, threads that you, you mentioned, which I think it is rather comprehensive, but it's also, uh, Clearly, important for, for a state like ours, we here at College Futures are very much interested in supporting, uh, creating upward mobility for learners in this state who have been historically underserved. These are the kinds of people who, as you mentioned, have sort of gotten stuck in the gears of our post secondary education system and our K 12 system. So, I mean, the way we're thinking about it is really. And so I, I really appreciate the words that you've used, the words that the governors have used, which is, you know, we really need to reimagine this from the point of view of the learner, themselves, rather than from the institutions. I think the beauty of our master plan, and I've had a great experience of, of working. With and in a lot of different states and various roles that I've been in, no one has the comprehensive master plan like California does, but sometimes it could also be the impediment and it's hard to reimagine a different way of looking at this, particularly in light of the fact that you just mentioned. We want to create more opportunity, not less post secondary education is important for everyone's future, not just for some, uh, and the economy that we're building in California is going to require that. So you mentioned the employers. in the executive order, it mentions, the role of the state as the employer, different ways of thinking about skills, competencies, you mentioned, the fact that many learners right now don't have the ability to clearly articulate what skills that they have, whether from formal learning or from their experience. What do you see as the role of the employer in this new master plan for career education? I mean, they're, they're central to it, right? We've, I mean, we've been talking about this for a long time, but at the end of the day, the, I would say the state's central role is to help mediate a good and healthy conversation and interaction between workers and employers, basically. And so right now we, you know, we don't talk to either all that much. We certainly don't talk to employers all that much. What we are designing as education and workforce systems ought to be driven by employer demand, right? It should be that what employers think their, their, their need is going to be now and down the line should drive really how we're pointing our education and workforce systems. Because at the end of the day, every one of those students in those systems They might have all sorts of different dreams, but they all have to put food on the table. They all have to have a career path that is purposeful to themselves and that is actually attainable for themselves. And that's why also when something like this executive order and a person like Governor Newsom is so needed, because we are all used to having these conversations in our silos. The K 12 folks have the conversation around, Oh, we got to engage employers more in higher ed. It's like we got to engage employers more. Employers are over there. siloed out, no one's talking to them, but they're, you know, complaining that no one's talking to them. And it's like, everyone's busy, and frankly, the onus is on a person like Governor Newsom, and like, a person like me, to start pulling folks together and basically saying, okay, we gotta do the thing that we haven't done in, you know, history. We gotta have, start having these conversations, and really start doing the thing that we've been talking about. And that's what's been missing all these decades, I think, and I think this is where we gotta actually start making that as real as we can, and we have 38 months to do it. So you mentioned the time that you have left and. Obviously, there's lots going on in the state and in the country and in the world right now that's drawing our attention. Why is this a priority for the governor right now? I mean, the way that you contextualize that too is exactly how I think about it. There's always going to be things that emerge. There's always going to be a crisis or a, I mean, I've been here five years. And I, you know, and during that it's been COVID and wildfire. It's like, I know. Our jobs are determined by the situational issues that arise, but we cannot. The people in our systems cannot do a good job serving the people in our systems until we think more strategically, not just situationally. And so we have this very narrow, why now, the answer is we have this very narrow window of both need and opportunity. So I'll go through both a little bit. On the need side, again, we're on track for incremental progress, but I want everyone who's watching and listening to this to really Think, are we on track to meeting the scale of need that is needed, that is demanded of this moment? And I would even argue that these changes are not just new, they're actually long overdue. We have been grappling with them not only as policy makers, but I would say as users of these systems as well. So I'm going to throw two things out there again. I want the, everyone who's listening and watching this to think about it. When is the last time you heard somebody joke? I haven't used that, you know, this thing I learned in high school since, High school or when is the last time you heard somebody joke? I didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up until I was about 30 or 40, like I hear people say those things or 50 or 60. And we all joke about that, but think about how wild that is. How deep, how deeply inadequate our systems are. If that's true. If it's true that in the most important years of a young person's life, from like 14 to 18, we load them up with skills and content and knowledge that they're not going to use the rest of their lives. What, what does it say about our systems that you, we go through high school and college and you don't know what you want to do when you grow up? What the heck else was high school and college? Four. And so I would argue that these were long overdue systemic problems that we've gotten away with kind of skating by multiple systems. The world is hitting us real fast and we got to start moving. And so that's the need. That's the urgent, urgent need. Unless we start turning the ships now, we are already too late. You know how long this stuff takes. It'll take a decade just to get these systems to move. And so if we don't start moving now, 2023 is, or 2033 is already Over for us. That's what we need on the opportunity side. It's a wild opportunity for us. I'll even say that the administration lucked out in a lot of ways. So like on the budget side, we have had years of surpluses. Again, we've had down years, but overall. Our administration has seen tens of billions of new money invested. You don't have to fight about it. It's a hardy money that we've set into this place. We've seeded it's existing not to fight about it. So when's the last time in California we've had tens of billions of dollars to kind of skate on. I can't think of another time. That's advantage number one. Advantage number two is the partnerships. We have people across systems right now who we all, you know, Elo, you and I have known each other for five years. Like we all know each other at this point. Our systems have the right leadership who all get along and have a common vision. I contrast this with, you know, prior administrations where the tops of higher ed systems could not sit in the same rooms as some of our State leaders, they could not even be in a friendly conversation, you know what I'm referring to, Eli? Yes. That's not the situation that we're in now. We actually have remarkable consensus, at least at a high level, uh, in terms of where we want to move things. That's number two is partnership. Number three is leadership. We have a governor, if he's known for anything, and if, if, He has a gov, what I tell people is he wakes up every morning wanting to solve problems. He has an insatiable appetite for it. He wants to think big. He wants to solve big. So we have a governor who wants to solve big, think big, and wants to model for the nation. Let's do that here. Like we have that window. And I guess the last thing I want to leave that with though is the thing that keeps me up at night, which is there's that urgent need. There's also this incredible opportunity. If we cannot make use of the next 38 months. If we fail in this, taking advantage of this opportunity, again, I ask the listener, if not now, in the next 38 months, when? Take a shot to get this big, meaningful transformational change and foundational change in place. Otherwise, I don't know what the future looks like, and I don't know how to manage social change in a way that doesn't require, uh, more extreme things. Now, as you've mentioned, you're still overseeing the cradle to career efforts, to bring that data together to really create an opportunity to, look at points along the spectrum in the life of a learner, and be able to have the data necessary to be able to plug them into the right, training, education, post secondary experience that they need, uh, which I think is, is the right way to go given that, a bachelor's degree or credential is no longer enough. You need to continue to have a place where you often re skill or up skill. How are these two efforts, how do you see them coming together? They're cradle to career work. And the work that will be happening around the new, career education master plan. Yeah, extremely related in a lot of ways. The career education master plan was envisioned at the time that we were working in 2019 and getting the effort around critical data system going. We actually wanted to move forward first with the data system and the data infrastructure because we knew it would take among the long, you know. Nothing takes longer than data sharing agreements, right? It's like, it just takes a long time to pull this together and get people to actually start sharing the data together and kind of get the data to flow. So we knew we, no matter how we approached this policy issue, we knew that we would need to have better data infrastructure in place to inform policy, to enable us to build better tools and all of that. So we got it going early. and so in many ways, they're the one in the same. process. We are trying to solve the same thing, which is how, during the new administration, can we rethink education and workforce systems to better align to reality, cradle to career, and actually get students and families connected up with what they want out of these systems, which is usually a career and, you know, um, a livelihood. And so that's the one common coherent thing. I want to point out for, uh, you and the listeners, the, Some interesting things to like see within the data system process. So one is, yeah, it takes a long time. Like I was saying, like I'm solving for 2030 and 2035. I have no illusions that this is all up and running by 2025 and 2026. I'm trying to get us moving so that we don't miss the boat a decade from now. I think likewise, the data system, it's been five years and we're just now getting it up and running just now getting calls out the door. And so that's all to say. All of this takes time and we cannot underestimate the urgency of getting this stuff up and moving. Right. That's one thing I want to point out. The second thing I want to point out is, the data system is another example of this situation that I think we're all in in education. Which is, at a high level of principles and values, we can often very much agree. So, when I was trying to scope out the data system, Almost nobody pushed back. They were all like, of course we should share data. It only makes sense, but guess what? You get in the nuts and bolts and it gets really, really, really hard. We all have fast. And so I think that that's another thing that I just want to, you know, point out from the process is yeah, we're going to keep driving toward towards some outcome, but everyone who is participating in this work should know and anticipate that at a high level, we'll agree, but that. At a level of detail and granularity, there are going to be things that come out where you're, you know, you're going to wish that something we want to do one way as opposed to another way, and that's the reality of getting any change moving is, it's a matter of like, kind of taking our agreement and going down and down and down and testing it until we get to a point where, you know, we, uh, have to make a call. So let me ask you, two more questions as we begin to wrap up first. you know, there's been a lot of momentum over the years to try and drive toward a more comprehensive career education, framework. You know, you, you may recall things like link learning, effort that was, led by the James Irvine Foundation, um, and then came to Career Pathways Trust. Loss of investment, uh, former, pro Tem, Darrell Steinberg led that effort. and now we're coming to, this, point in time where we have the governor really leaning into this. What do you want? leaders in the state to hear, institutional leaders in post secondary education, policy leaders, third party intermediaries, workforce investment boards, how do you want them to think about this so that there is the urgency that you're talking about, to get this done? What should they be doing? I would say in terms of each Expert or institutional player or administrator or leader, for everybody out there, I would say first take stock of what your systems are already doing, because that to that point, we don't want to reinvent the wheel where we don't have to, uh, we want to scale, not reinvent. I would say number two is You will be starting to get different ways that you could plug in, whether it's the different advisory groups or workshops and things like that, people should really expect it from like January 2024 on, engage in all of those, uh, outlets and sort of inputs that we, uh, make available. You know, here's my most honest answer to your question, Eli, I'll just be real. I'm trying to give you like some ways that people could plug in, but I'll give everybody you and everybody like this, this my straight, like honest, like answer, which is. What scares me about this is I'm talking about, I'm serious about systems change and institutional, like, foundational change. The problem is we have no playbook for it. There's no model for it. The last model that I'm working off of is this book right here, which is about the, it's from 1960. The National Plan for Higher Education from 1960, right? We haven't kind of built the muscle in a long time to address a lot of the foundational issues. And so, I guess, I don't have all the answers. My gut says that part of the core problem is a lack of trust. That's my theory is that for all these years with me and hard of addressing the foundational issues is we can't trust each other to touch the big issues, like a master plan, because we're afraid that if you touch it, you might take something away from me. And I think that's fundamentally a lot of what we're missing across. Policy areas. And so I think that what one thing that we're going to be focused in on in terms of trying to build, build this process and do this engagement is how do we cultivate that trust as best as we can, how do we make sure that we are engaging people so that people don't feel like, you know, something scary is going to be dropped onto them, that we are articulating a sufficiently bold vision, but not one that is unanchored from reality. Like, how do we build that trust over the next 13 months to actually build that vision and then lay it out. As we close, if people who are listening in, are interested in keeping tabs on, on what's going on or what kind of progress we're making, what's the best way for them to get updates on how this executive order is being implemented? Yeah, so I would say, it actually relies to what you were saying earlier about the data system. So, uh, Kathy Booth and the folks at WestEd, uh, are going to be helping us on the planning process. So anyone who engaged in the Cradle to Clear data system planning process is very familiar with Kathy and her team. people should expect to see, you know, sort of ways to plug in, coming out of, the WestEd team and all of that. Around November, expect to see more out, Incoming from us. That's about how to plug in our website where we're going to put everything, uh, that's around career education and what we're doing. Uh, you could read the EO there. When we start putting up information, we'll, we'll stick it all there. So again, for everybody, uh, careereducation. gov. ca. gov is where it's going to be our sort of landing page for all this work moving forward. Perfect. Well, listen, Ben, I know you've got a million things on your plate. thank you for taking the time to, to sit down with me and, and talk about this executive order and, uh, just know that we're going to be here to support you along the way. So thanks for being with us. I appreciate it so much. Thank you. And thank you everybody. I wanna thank Ben Chea for taking the time out of his busy schedule To learn more about, uh, the executive order, you heard, Ben, mention the website. Feel free to visit the Governor's website. So we'll see you again soon.