California Community Colleges are Driving the Future of Creative Industries

With 80% of internet traffic driven by video by 2020, there is a rapidly growing demand for skilled labor to create this digital content that we all love to watch and share on our phones. And this is important work — it’s how we get our news, it’s how we share stories of inspiration to raise money for causes we care about, and it’s how the entire media industry is shifting to reach consumers.

As I attend the California Community College Association for Occupational Education Conference this week, I am reflecting back on our collaborations with community colleges across the state.

California community colleges are solving America’s biggest educational challenge today — training skilled workers for jobs that are in high demand, and in particular they are doing great work for the creative economy. From the administrators, to the faculty, to the students in these organizations — at every level there are people who are doing incredible things every day to make economic impact.

Considering how critical skills like persistence, empathy, and digital literacy are to finding work in creative industries, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to collaborate in creating an interactive educational video lesson series for the New World of Work — an initiative that is transforming the way 21st Century Skills are taught through video lessons that place students in the shoes of real life work scenarios.

I had the opportunity to interview Rajinder Gill, the Executive Director and Co-Creator of New World of Work, on the impact these lessons are having on instructors and students alike.

From a student perspective, she told me a powerful story about how the video lessons helped the collaborative interactions of an employee on the autism spectrum with his fellow team members. Rajinder shared:

“There was a student who was on the autism spectrum who had gone through the empathy lessons and had watched the empathy videos — and discovered appropriate or inappropriate ways of finding common ground. That student decided to take it like a scientific experiment, and to watch what was happening in the lessons and the videos, and to practice it in his workplace.

A lot of times — for students who are on the autism spectrum, social interactions can be more challenging — because of reading facial expressions. And at the end of this series, he was able to follow a new approach — it was kind of his ‘living laboratory’ — he could practice (his work setting) like a scientific experiment. And all of his co-workers expressed how he had become much more a member of the team — and they felt like they understood him better — they felt that he was understanding them.”

I also asked Rajinder how the series had been used by instructors to really create a tangible impact in the classroom — and she shared that it was a great tool for creating meaningful dialogue. She explained:

“The video series allows for real life examples — especially with the assessment videos, where the instructors can talk about a concept, but then really have the students — especially with visual learners, get to experience it and dialogue about it — it generates a lot of great discussion questions.”

I am also grateful for the opportunity to have developed and launched a workshop series on finding work in media in entertainment with the Los Angeles consortium of community colleges under (ICAPS) the Institute for Integrated Career & Academy Pathways program.

In this workshop series, we have focused on two key areas of the learner’s journey when it comes to finding work: career exploration and tactics towards finding work, which includes building out a creative portfolio.

Earlier last year, I was able to interact directly with some of our students when we attended the 3rd Annual Regional Career Technical Education (CTE) on campus at Los Angeles City College. We hosted a special workshop on Finding the Right Career in Creative Industries” where a lot of what we covered was about exploring the technical skills required and the interpersonal skills and relationship building efforts that go in to getting work and keeping a job in creative industries.

At the end of the symposium, we watched a student video screening showcase — and I was truly impressed with the unique creativity of each person. Getting to see the work of these students was a joy — our community colleges have such talented, inspiring, and creative people! I also witnessed the dedication of the faculty and administrators who support their journeys daily was humbling — staying true to the mission of Los Angeles City College:

“Empowering students from the diverse communities it serves to achieve their educational and career goals by providing learner-centered pathways to success through transfer, career and technical education, and foundational skills programs.”

And most recently — we have worked with some of the colleges across Los Angeles to encourage participation in the AT&T Media Fellowship program — a sponsored program where students can learn exactly what skills will be required for them to enter into the workforce at a top media organization like AT&T.

I am looking forward to meeting the incredible community of administrators and faculty again this week who make all of this great work possible. Let’s recognize together their tremendous efforts — thank them, support them, and ask how we can help them continue to just do what they do — help talented students learn well and find good work.