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RB 914SMRB

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RB 914SMRB

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While physicians and other highly trained clini - cians are critical to health care delivery, the majority of health care jobs are technical and support positions—referred to in this report as the allied health workforce—that tend to require associate degrees or vocational certifcates. Overall, about 40 percent of all health care jobs that need to be flled over the next decade will require some college but less than a bachelor’s degree. The need for an adequately trained allied health workforce is an important component of California’s overall “skills gap”: in addition to a shortfall of workers with college degrees, by 2025 the state is projected to have a shortage of more than 1.5 million workers with some col - lege education but less than a bachelor’s degree. To respond to this looming workforce gap, California’s two-year higher education institutions need to provide training opportunities for jobs that are well matched with future workforce demand. Current trends in degree comple - tion in allied health programs indicate that there is room for improvement. Recent growth in the number of associate degrees and postsecondary certifcates in health programs has largely been driven by for-proft institutions. These institutions serve a high number of underrepresented students, but the higher cost of for-proft programs, their focus on short-term certifcates that may not provide labor market returns, and the GETTY IMAGES California’s Health Workforce Needs: Training Allied Workers 2 www.ppic.org mismatch between the training these institutions provide and health workforce demand are causes for concern. Given the importance of associate degrees and postsecondary cer - tifcates in growing health care occupations—and the need for a workforce that can serve California’s increasingly diverse population—the state needs to ensure that its two-year institutions are meeting demands and providing good employment opportunities. To plan and prepare for future needs, state and regional decisionmakers need accurate information and timely analysis. The state has some capacity to monitor health workforce needs but would beneft from more information about training across the many occupa - tional areas in the health care sector. In the absence of a state entity that coordinates policy planning and research across the state’s higher education system, individual public systems could share and combine their information. Linkages to employment information via the state Employment Development Department could be developed, and legislative action could improve the accessibility and consistency of health workforce training, employment, and wage information. The state could increase and diversify its health workforce through California’s diverse and well-situated public two-year institutions. But to meet future workforce demands, com - munity colleges will need to increase access to high-demand and high-return programs and improve student outcomes without losing sight of their open-access mandate. Targeted poli - cies—involving the level and allocation of resources at state schools—could signifcantly increase the number of graduates in health felds within the next decade. The health workforce is a large and growing part of California’s economy, but many addi - tional workers will be needed over the near term to keep up with demand. With careful analy- sis, planning, and investment, the state can meet future health care needs and ofer career opportunities to a diverse group of Californians. 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