On June 22, California’s first statewide, competency-based, online community college launched its new name, website and brand identity. The newly christened Calbright College is enrolling its first cohort in courses by October 1, with high hopes that lessons learned in the coming months will inform plans to scale to thousands of learners across the state.

“There are millions of working adults in California and throughout the country who are juggling multiple challenges like raising children, or caring for elderly parents and grandparents,” said Calbright CEO Heather Hiles. “There are so many people who feel the squeeze of low wages, the strain of no healthcare coverage, the stress of out of control expenses, and the pain of debilitating debt with no end in sight. We’re here to give these folks a leg up onto the ladder of opportunity, equipping them with lifelong skills they can use to build meaningful and successful careers.”

While Calbright’s leaders anticipate a wider launch in 2020, the first cohort will be limited to 300-400 learners sourced from union partnership, business partnerships and general inquiries. Initially, learners will choose between three pathways, each cornerstone sectors of the California economy: general information technology (IT), cybersecurity or medical coding.

General Information Technology Pathway
Technical support functions offer many entry-level positions, with 10,000 new job openings projected per year through 2024. IT is an expanding area of expertise and an essential role in all California organizations, and Calbright’s curriculum intends to address newer additions to the field such as artificial intelligence (AI) and programming innovation.

IT support jobs have a median wage above $28/hour, and these entry level jobs are a viable stepping stone, with further training, to higher paying jobs such as database administrators, network administrators and user support specialists.

Cybersecurity Pathway
Information security, or cybersecurity, is a rapidly growing IT subsector, and the job market doesn’t have enough qualified candidates to fill all available positions. Calbright’s Security+ coursework will prepare learners to protect computer systems from theft and damage and keep organizations’ data safe and secure from hackers.

Both initial IT pathways will include curriculum in literacy, numeracy, digital skills and soft skills with instruction contextualized to the IT workplace. In addition, the Network Support program, with details developed by the instructional team in consultation with industry and employer partners, will include extended digital skills. The User Support program will include extended soft skills, including interpersonal communication and problem solving. 

Medical Coding Pathway
Medical coding is the process of translating patient data into universally-recognized codes for tracking patients’ medical histories. It requires an understanding of anatomy, physiology and medical procedures, which makes medical coders excellent candidates for upwardly mobile careers in the healthcare sector. 

Learners who successfully complete this pathway will be Calbright Certified, receive a certificate of completion, and be prepared to take a national medical coding exam including, but not limited to, the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) Certified Professional Coder (CPC) exam. Upon passing a certification exam, learners will receive a certificate of Medical Coding mastery from the credentialing organization. 

Accurate medical service coding is a critical need for healthcare providers, with an estimated 11,000 new total jobs added between 2017 and 2024. It requires only a high school diploma, but demands a fairly modest time commitment by adult learners in exchange for providing foundational skills for career advancement. 

Learn more about Calbright College by visiting calbright.org.

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