Calbright College Releases New Statewide Public Sector Workforce Impact Report - Featured Image

Calbright College Releases New Statewide Public Sector Workforce Impact Report

Higher education innovators like Calbright College can help bridge the gap between underutilized workers and vacancies in key public sector jobs.

Sacramento, Calif., May 30, 2024 – Today, Calbright College and Lightcast released a new report, titled The Road to Optimizing California’s Public Sector Labor Market. The report highlights how California’s public sector plays a crucial role in the state’s economy, yet employers often encounter difficulties securing the critical talent. With Governor Newsom’s executive order to prepare the workforce of tomorrow through skills-based hiring, California plays a unique leadership role in reducing barriers to employment. However, California’s public sector is experiencing labor shortages, struggling to return to pre-pandemic employment levels and to fill in-demand openings across the state. With in-depth analysis, the report identifies the key challenges that must be addressed in order for the state to remain resilient and competitive, while also offering opportunities to create a more equitable access to these jobs.

The report was released at a roundtable discussion convened by Calbright College and NextGen Policy, including Calbright President and CEO Ajita Talwalker Menon, NextGen Policy’s Executive Director Arnie Sowell, Abby Snay, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Strategy at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and Adele Burnes, Deputy Chief of the California Division of Apprenticeship Standards. 

“The key to unlocking California’s potential is connecting the skills needed in the public sector workforce with innovative, accessible educational opportunities responsive to the needs of employers and jobseekers,” said Menon. “Guided by this report, we can collaborate to create new opportunities to train future-ready workers – bringing all corners of our communities off of the sidelines of our economy and into good jobs.” 

“California’s public sector – our local and state government institutions – have been an important source of living wage careers and economic mobility for generations of those who call the Golden State home,” said Arnie Sowell Jr., executive director for NextGen Policy. “The report being released today by Calbright and Lightcast outlines a pragmatic, multi-faceted approach to improving equitable access to California’s public sector job marketplace, while also ensuring public sector employers are better positioned to maximize the diverse strengths and untapped talents of all Californians.” 

Demand for public sector jobs in California is growing at an accelerating rate. In the previous 12 months, the sector experienced high demand for mid-level and entry-level jobs in health care, administrative roles, IT, education, and public safety, making institutions like Calbright even more critical in ensuring a future-ready workforce is prepared to fill employment gaps. The challenges outlined in this report reinforce Calbright’s mission to serve as a statewide workforce catalyst by meeting students where they are. By supporting working adults who lack easy access to traditional forms of higher education and workforce training, Calbright’s workforce-based programs provide an unmet need and set up the Californians, entering a variety of different industries, for success.

“Because California is on the cutting edge in so many industries, we must keep up with the demand for skilled workers by making sure employment pathways are as accessible as possible,” said Abby Snay, Deputy Secretary for Workforce Strategy at the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. “Public sector workers keep our state running efficiently and serving equitably the 40 million people who call California home. Growing this workforce is an important strategic priority for our state.“

Through an in-depth analysis of California’s public sector, The Road to Optimizing California’s Public Sector Labor Market pinpointed key challenges that must be addressed in order to stay resilient and competitive:

  • Need for a Future-Ready Workforce – Talent shortages are prevalent in almost every industry and region. Stakeholders in the public sector, including employers and educators, must gain a clear understanding of the evolving trends in the industry.
  • Talent Supply Gaps – California’s public sector suffers from severe supply stress; 31% of occupations have fewer than one local person available to fill a job for these roles.
  • Hiring Processes and Inefficiencies – A common theme of interviews conducted for the report with public sector employers were concerns with the hurdles that exist for workers at each step of the hiring process.
  • Underutilization – California has the highest labor underutilization rate in the United States, and people of color are underutilized at a higher rate than the state average. While there are many reasons why individuals may be underutilized, education is often a key factor.


The report also includes recommendations for policymakers, higher education leaders and public sector employers for improving access to public sector jobs. These include:

  • Right-sizing requirements for public sector job sand shifting to skills-based hiring,
  • Developing workforce management models to improve collaboration between educators and communities, and 
  • Inclusive state workforce policies like Executive Order N-11-23, which directs the California Human Resources Department to evaluate whether a college degree is needed for a position whenever its classification is reviewed.


Calbright’s Statewide Impact Report, conducted by Lightcast and published on May 30, is available on the College’s website here.

About Calbright

Calbright College is a new kind of community college designed to support the needs and goals of adult learners. Established in 2018, Calbright is a statewide, online, and flexible California Community College that offers accessible and career-focused programs—based on in-demand skills from IT to CRM Platform Administration to Data Analysis. Calbright’s free and flexibly paced model, which utilizes competency-based education, works within the schedules of California’s working-age adults to provide the rigor of higher education without the logistical hurdles of a traditional institution. 

About Lightcast

Lightcast provides trusted global labor market data, analytics and expert guidance that empowers communities, corporations and earning providers to make informed decisions and navigate the increasingly complex world of work. With a database of more than one billion job postings and career profiles, Lightcast provides best-in-class customer service with robust data, clear analysis, and expert guidance on skills, jobs and opportunities.

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