If Gov. Jerry Brown approves a bill passed by the legislature in September, California will join Oregon and Tennessee on the list of states offering tuition-free community college programs.
As businesses turn to community colleges to train talent, some analysts say it just might help close the skills gap many employers are facing. According to one estimate, 65 percent of all jobs will require an associate or bachelor’s degree or other form of education beyond high school by 2020.
David A. Bergeron, vice president for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, a nonpartisan policy institute, said free community college tuition could build a better talent pool if it is part of an overall strategy to enhance the workforce, including providing an incentive for people to finish college degrees.
Getting students in the door is half the battle, said Lisa W. Wardell, CEO and president of Adtalem Global Education, the for-profit education institution formerly known as DeVry Education Group. Getting them to graduate is the ultimate goal.