Doug Ernst

Napa Valley Register columnist Doug Ernst.

According to Dan Walters, the longtime Sacramento watchdog, California needs more workers and community colleges play a vital role in providing them.

By offering affordable, high-quality education, community colleges help students and families save money and fuel California’s workforce, and therefore, the economy.

Students who take advantage of what community colleges provide –- career technical education and preparation for bachelor’s degrees at four-year colleges –- can help convince California employers to stay put, rather than move jobs to other states, or nations.

Napa Valley College is in the middle of a fact-finding process, in which staff and faculty, along with local employers and residents, are being asked what they want from their community college.

So far, internal and external responses are similar.

The messages seem to be:

  • Keep up with the demands of a more technical workforce by upgrading job training classrooms to accommodate technical training.
  • Improve science labs to allow academic advancement at universities and career opportunities for high-paying, high-level jobs.
  • Retrofit 50-year old buildings to keep them safe and productive.
  • Provide programs for local veterans and others re-entering the workforce.

Collaboration is happening on campus between faculty, staff, and administration, as forums are being held on campus to hear what instructors need to prepare students for universities and careers.

Collaboration between the college and the community is also starting to happen.

A speaker’s bureau has been formed to communicate with businesses, nonprofit agencies and service organizations. Dozens of organizations are looking for guest speakers and about 20 college volunteers are eager to participate.

Each speaker will give a five-minute PowerPoint presentation, and continue to ask for the community’s feedback about their priorities for the College as we celebrate our 75th year.

If you come to the college’s 75th anniversary celebration and open house festival on April 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., you’ll see what the college has been doing, and be able to tell us what you’d like the college do in the future.

The process of self-improvement doesn’t happen in a vacuum. To make the right decisions about how to best serve students and the community, the college is asking:

  • Do you value the economic boost that the college and its graduates give to the Napa Valley community – upwards of $300 million per year?
  • Do you value the investments that local employers make to help groom a healthy workforce?
  • Do you believe in affordable access to high-quality education?
  • Do you want California to compete for high-quality jobs?

Join the conversation and find out more at: napavalley.edu/communityfeedback. You can help Napa Valley College move forward in collaboration with the desires of the community and the demands of a changing workforce.

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Doug Ernst is the Napa Valley College public information officer. Reach him at DErnst@napavalley.edu or (707) 256-7112.