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Initial Findings Report

L.A. & Orange County Community Colleges: Powering Economic Opportunity


The “L.A. & Orange County Community Colleges: Powering Economic Opportunity” report pinpoints select “target” industries and middle-skill occupations that will drive the regional economy over the next five years, contributing to increased prosperity and improved standards of living for the residents in the Los Angeles Basin, which encompasses Los Angeles and Orange counties. The report is the product of a collaboration between the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) and the Center for a Competitive Workforce.

Labor Market

The Los Angeles Basin, like much of the United States, is transitioning in many significant ways:

  • From an economy that was production based, to an information-age, digital economy, where intellectual property, capital and knowledge are highly valued,
  • From traditional career paradigms to new work models such as part-time work and self-employment in the gig economy, and
  • From traditional ways of doing business to a new, technology-oriented workplace requiring vastly different skillsets and types of thinking.

Target Industries

Six target industries were selected with promising middle-skill potential as seen below:

An estimated 55,725 total openings for middle-skills jobs within these six target industries are expected over the five-year period of 2016 through 2021.

For more information on how these target industries were selected, download the full report.

Target Occupations

The report identifies 20 middle-skill occupations that offer rewarding and well-paid career paths for students and that have the most potential for community college programs.

For more information on how these target occupations were selected, download the full report.

Supply/Demand Analysis

During the 2014-15 academic year, nearly 776,000 students enrolled in one or more community college courses in the Los Angeles Basin. Of those students, 523,331 students, about 67 percent, enrolled in career education courses.

In the region, there will be approximately 67,450 job openings over the next five years for the 20 occupations highlighted in this report.

However, there appears to be a looming gap in the supply of skilled workers to enter these jobs.

According to the latest data available, from the academic year 2014-15, there were fewer than 27,000 career education award earners in the Los Angeles Basin. Nearly 7,800 awards were conferred in programs training for the 20 target occupations.

If this trend continues, 42 percent of the demand in the region will not be met over the next five years.

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Summary of Findings

Regionally, students can choose from more than 200 career education programs offered by 19 community colleges in Los Angeles County and nine community colleges in Orange County. Since community colleges play a leading and vital role in training students to enter these target occupations, it is incumbent that more attention be given toward meeting forecasted employer demand. Closing the supply gap is critical to the growth and prosperity of the economy in the Los Angeles Basin.


The system serves 776,000 students


including 523,000+ career education students


with 200+ career education programs


across 28 community colleges

The region’s community colleges are uniquely suited to train, educate, and upskill the LA Basin’s workforce of the future – but must work closely with industry leaders to ensure that middle-skills talent can keep up with growing demand.