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Bill To Let Community Colleges Offer Four-Year Degrees Clears California Senate

A bill written by a San Diego lawmaker that would allow some community colleges to offer four-year degrees has passed the state Senate.

Democratic Sen. Marty Block, who authored the measure, said he wants to get at what he sees as a skills gap in which people aren't trained for the jobs available.

“We have about 4 million unfilled jobs nationally right now, despite still fairly high unemployment,” Block said. “The problem isn’t that there aren’t jobs out there, the problem is that we don’t have people who are trained for the jobs that are out there.”

He said it is the third time in the past four years that he has tried to get the legislation passed.

The measure, SB850, would allow certain community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees, in addition to the associate's or transfer degrees they offer now.

“SB 850 authorizes 15 community colleges around the state to each offer one bachelor’s degree, and it has to be in an area of critical workforce demand in the community,” Block said.

The four-year programs also cannot duplicate a degree program already offered by the University of California and the California State University systems.

Among the bill's backers are veterans groups, Block said. Veterans often are highly trained but lack degrees and turn to for-profit private colleges instead of public schools for a formal education, he said.

The bill now goes to the Assembly for approval.

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