The L.A. Coalition will partner with the Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) in the fall of 2017 to pilot the Books & Tools Program. This program will address a fundamental challenge in workforce development: individuals need more skills to earn a living wage and the cost of acquiring those skills continues to increase. Whereas policy makers primarily focus on tuition as the key financial barrier to skill attainment, the cost of books and tools can be up to 5x the average annual community college tuition cost of $1300 for students enrolled in our pilot programs. As a point of reference, just over half of students enrolled at LATTC are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.
This program is critical at a time when nearly one-third of post-recession job growth in the region has been in low wage occupations, yet positions that pay a middle class wage with benefits go unfilled due to a lack of workers trained with relevant skills.