Unearthing Inequities in California’s Education-to-Employment Pipeline

Topics: Employment, Race and Ethnicity, Regions, State Coordination

For the many roads to economic mobility our state offers, millions of Californians encounter just as many barriers as they navigate the process of earning a college degree and landing a job. Depending on your race/ethnicity, gender, and zip code, California may or may not be the place where you can make your dreams come true.

California Competes’ newest publication, Opportunity Imbalance: Race, Gender, and California’s Education-to-Employment Pipeline, reveals the challenges various racial/ethnic groups and genders face on the path from high school to college to the workforce. Our findings include focused analyses for Latinos, Whites, Asians, Blacks, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders in California and evaluates K-12, postsecondary, and workforce data sources to better understand how the education-to-employment pipeline in California allows many to succeed and many to fall off track.

Beyond showing that certain groups do better than others, our analysis tells much richer, nuanced stories about the imbalance of opportunity in California.

Beyond showing that certain groups do better than others, our analysis tells much richer, nuanced stories about the imbalance of opportunity in California. For example, Latino Californians have experienced progress in educational outcomes but continue to earn persistently lower wages. In fact, Latinos show the largest improvements in high school completion and college enrollment, yet they earn the lowest median wages of all racial/ethnic groups.

Disaggregating the data by race, gender, and region also allows us to unearth other trends and inequities. For example, while women in each racial/ethnic group fare better than men in educational outcomes, Black Californians experience the greatest educational gender disparities.

Gender Gap (Women - Men) in UC/CSU Eligibilty Rates, 2016

Source: California Competes’ calculations of California Department of Education data for 2015-16

California Community Colleges enroll the majority of students, but Black, Native American, and Pacific Islander college students, particularly women, are overrepresented at private for-profit institutions, which have historically lower completion and often job placement rates than other institutions.

Enrollment in California Colleges

 CCC    CSU    UC    Private, For-Profit    Private, Non-Profit   

Source: California Competes’ calculations of Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data for 2015-16

If higher education is going to continue to be a road to social mobility, state policy must address the inequities in how students access a postsecondary education, the path to completion, and what happens to them after they graduate. California cannot close the state’s looming degree gap without focusing on groups with historically low rates of degree attainment. Our hope is that Opportunity Imbalance provides the information and the impetus needed to enact policies toward this end.