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San Diego College of Continuing Education

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Opinion: San Diego's Best Kept Secret

February 6, 2023

Dr. Tina M. King with Certified Nurse Assistant Students at San Diego College of Continuing Education in Barrio Logan.OPINION: SAN DIEGO’S BEST KEPT SECRET

Tina M. King, Ed.D., President of San Diego College of Continuing Education

San Diego is home to the best kept secret located in the hearts of Barrio Logan, Point Loma, and Southeastern San Diego. Inside these campuses, students are learning how to weld military ships, training toward six-figure cyber security careers, and becoming licensed in critical healthcare professions. The secret is none other than  California’s second largest provider of free workforce training, San Diego College of Continuing Education.

San Diegans need to know there is a great opportunity ready and waiting for them at San Diego College of Continuing Education on any of the seven campuses within the City of San Diego and online.

San Diego is facing tragic increases in homelessness — many people left without a place to sleep and a job to support themselves. Without access to help it is nearly impossible to achieve upward mobility.

Youth with less than a high school diploma or GED have a 346% higher risk of experiencing homelessness than youth with at least a high school degree, according to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness

The answer — high quality short-term programs from of all kinds from web development to culinary, from programming with python HVAC and dozens more,  available to all students at no cost to them. Additional free classes include High School Diploma/Equivalency, English as a Second Language, and Citizenship. 

Seventy certificate programs at the College of Continuing Education are specifically developed for adult students who are low-income, veterans, first-generation, immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and formally justice impacted. Students of all ages and backgrounds enroll  into automotive, business and accounting, child development, clothing and textiles, digital media and programming, healthcare, hospitality and culinary arts, information technology, and skilled and technical trades. 

The College of Continuing Education has existed for more than one hundred years yet is often unknown. Most students learn about the opportunity through word of mouth. 

Classes are at no cost to the students as the College of Continuing Education is one of the 116 colleges within the California Community College system of Higher Education. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. 

Although the high-quality classes are provided at no cost to the students the College of Continuing Education understands that today  too many students face basic needs barriers which prevent them from being successful in the classroom and at home. 

Once enrolled, students have access to SDCCE CARES (Commitment to Accessible Resources for Educational Support), a comprehensive Basic Needs Program designed to help students meet fundamental needs of food, housing, transportation, childcare, and mental wellness. Students are connected to accessible and timely resources to support them while completing their educational goals. 

Following the COVID-19 recession and with attrition rates rising across myriads of industries, San Diego businesses are eager to hire skilled professionals as soon as possible. At the College of Continuing Education, classrooms mirror industries to look like an auto shop, welding yard, industrial kitchen, or a hospital for a hands-on learning experience. Students also work in clinicals, pre-apprenticeships, and internships. After certification completion which take only four to eight months, students are ready for employment or transition to college for further training. 

Many middle-skills jobs require more education or training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. 39% (678,770) of the 1.7 million jobs (1,737,766) jobs in San Diego and Imperial Counties in 2020 were middle-skill, according to Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research

Opening the door to the best kept secret has helped launched the careers of Raven Antiquiera, Sarah Ramos,  Eric Burke — to name a few of the 30,000 students the College of Continuing Education serves annually, which include many disenfranchised young adults returning to college after some absence from education and foreign born professionals who, despite earning their doctoral credentials, have to start over in a new country. 

Antiquiera, a first-generation Filipino American student, achieved a director level position at a major information technology firm in San Diego after earning a desktop technician certificate from the College of Continuing Education. Ramos worked in human resources for two decades before enrolling in the culinary arts certificate program and is now a pastry chef de partie for San Diego’s 3 Michelin Star fine-dining restaurant, Addison. Burke completed the nursing assistant certificate program paired with clinical hours and landed a job at Sharp Hospital - a role that traditionally requires 1-5 years of experience. 

In fiscal year (FY) 2019-20, SDCCE’s Career Technical Education (CTE) added $244.9 million in income to the San Diego County economy, according to Emsi. Expressed in terms of jobs, SDCCE’s CTE impact supported 2,956 jobs. 

CTE at SDCCE creates a significant positive impact on the business community and generates a return on investment to its major stakeholder groups— students, taxpayers, and society. Using a two-pronged approach that involves an economic impact analysis and an investment analysis, this study calculates the benefits received by each of these groups. 

Impacts on the San Diego County economy are reported under the economic impact analysis and are measured in terms of added income. The returns on investment to students, taxpayers, and society in California are reported under the investment analysis. 

Among other highlights of the report:


·The net impact of the college’s CTE operations spending added $19.2 million in income to the county economy in FY 2019-20.

·The net impact of SDCCE’s CTE construction spending in FY 2019-20 was $382.7 thousand in added income for San Diego County.

·The expenditures of relocated and retained CTE students in FY 2019-20 added $15.9 million in income to the San Diego County economy.

·The net impact of SDCCE’s former CTE students currently employed in the county workforce amounted to $209.4 million in added income in FY 2019-20.

·Taxpayers provided SDCCE’s CTE with $10.7 million of funding in FY 2019-20. In return, they will benefit from added tax revenue, stemming from CTE students’ higher lifetime earnings and increased business output, amounting to $44.2 million. A reduced demand for government-funded services in California will add another $11.1 million in benefits to taxpayers.

·For every dollar of public money invested in SDCCE’s CTE, taxpayers will receive $5.20 in return, over the course of CTE students’ working lives. The average annual rate of return for taxpayers is 31.9%.

·In FY 2019-20, California invested $75 million to support SDCCE’s CTE. In turn, the California economy will grow by $671.4 million, over the course of CTE students’ working lives. Society will also benefit from $14.3 million of public and private sector savings.

·For every dollar invested in SDCCE’s CTE in FY 2019-20, people in California will receive $9.10 in return, for as long as SDCCE’s FY 2019-20 CTE students remain active in the state workforce. 

The College of Continuing boasts seven campuses around the city of San Diego, all accessible by public transportation. The campuses are located in Barrio Logan, Mountain View, Point Loma, Mid-City, Kearny Mesa, and at Mesa College and Miramar College. 

The college’s flagship campus, Educational Cultural Complex sits atop hallowed ground with its ties to American Civil Rights. The California Commission to establish Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a federal holiday and performances by Civil Rights leader Coretta Scott King, award-winning artist and humanitarian Stevie Wonder, and Civil Rights activist and American poet Maya Angelou took place at the Educational Cultural Complex theatre. The historic building is undergoing a major remodel through a $35 million state grant. 

Let the best kept secret be secret no more. The public is heartily invited to enroll in classes for the spring semester, which begins February 1, 2023. Registration is open now. Visit SDCCE.EDU.

Allura Olympia Garis