Since 2021, Rio Hondo College and Mt. San Antonio College have led a region-wide effort to align community college certificates, degree programs, credentials and pathways with LA’s entertainment industry and creative economy. Southern California has the largest concentration of creative industries in the United States, and accounts for half of all California’s creative economy wages. But working within the entertainment industry is a challenge for institutions like community colleges.  

To bridge the gap, Rio Hondo has been working with 13 partner colleges in leading the LA Entertainment and Creative Economy Project, funded by the Strong Workforce Program, to capitalize on the growth of a creative career cluster that is expected to outpace the overall economy. 

In 2023, Mt. SAC commissioned the 2023 Creativity in Demand report, part of an emerging research program to better understand the size, growth, occupational structure and skill demands of the creative economy. This resource for K-12, CTE and post-secondary institutions, non-profits, governments and economic development practitioners will help them prepare California’s creative workforce of tomorrow. Mt. SAC partnered with consultant group CVL Economics, an LA-based economic consultant that specializes in inclusive economic development. 

Over the next decade, overall employment in the creative career cluster is expected to grow 11% in the Los Angeles region—which equates to nearly 40,000 jobs. In addition to that growth, between 6% and 16% of creative workers will retire or change fields, resulting in additional need for workers. Entry level wages in this field are excellent, as are median hourly wages.  

Despite one in twenty workers in the Los Angeles region being a part of the creative economy, the potential of creative careers is largely underappreciated. Policymakers and public infrastructure fail to understand how the creative economy is rapidly changing and becoming ingrained in more, and more diverse sectors. Cultivating the creative talent of tomorrow will pay dividends in the form of a more dynamic and diverse labor force across multiple sectors in the Los Angeles region.  

As the largest provider of publicly funded career education, community colleges are well positioned to lead on this effort. Thanks to the state funding through the Strong Workforce Program, our local colleges have the means to address these gaps in the labor market and strengthen our regional workforce development with new programs and partnerships. The LA Entertainment and Creative Economy Project is continuing to develop opportunities within the CTE programs that started aligning certificates to creative industries, beginning to connect students to internship or employment opportunities. The entertainment industry is starting to come back in person post-COVID and is willing and ready to start the conversation on how to collaborate more effectively.  

Recently, representatives from the entire group of colleges visited the Amazon Studios virtual production department and Stage 15 on the Amazon Studios Backlot in Culver City. They will continue to build relationships between the creative industries and community colleges, to foster industry-led technical support to create and sustain more responsive training aligned with market needs, expedite curriculum development and revision, and increase job placement.