In 2016, the state legislature approved a recurring annual $200 million budget for the Strong Workforce Program.

Sixty percent of that funding will go to community colleges, the other 40 percent to a regional consortium where colleges and employers work together to help address regional economic needs.

“There has been an infusion of dollars to our community colleges to build more and better career education programs in need by employers and regional economies,” said Vice Chancellor Van Ton-Quinlivan for workforce and economic development with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

The state investment is meant to improve, expand, and add to the vocational programs at colleges state-wide, said Ton-Quinlivan. It is also meant to attract people to pursue education to work in fields where there is an employee shortage.

The flight and aviation industry is one example where there is an employee shortage, said Professor Phil Cypret of aeronautics at the Sacramento City College (SCC).

“With this they spend two years in a vocational subject and the job is pretty much guaranteed because there is a shortage of workers in that field,” said Cypret.

The SCC has aeronautics program has received state-of-the-art training equipment through the state funding plan, that better prepares students for jobs in that field, said Cypret.

Joshua Brewer, 19, is a SCC student studying in the aeronautics program. He said he wants to become a Christian missionary pilot, to serve as a flight ambulance in underdeveloped areas. He is seeking a degree and license from SCC and hopes to be completed in two years. He said he could have attended a four year school to receive a bachelor’s degree but it cost too much.

State leaders are hoping to attract more people like him to fill the job gap in the coming years.