So the college raised the program's standards to a level employers needed, making it more rigorous and adding further instruction in English-language skills and math.
"We didn't pay a great deal of attention to this data while the economy was growing and unemployment was low -- but when the recession began, it became clear that we could no longer assume that program completion would result in employment," said Rock Pfotenhauer, a dean at Cabrillo.
Employers' demands have shifted so quickly that Archana Mani found her master's degree in information systems, which she earned in 2001, insufficient to get a job after she took a break to raise her children.
So she enrolled at Oakland Community College near Detroit, which had discovered through spidering technology an urgent need for programmers who could build and test new software applications.
"I can see that demand, now that I'm at work," said Mani, who completed the program and got a position with a quickly expanding branch of Hewlett-Packard in Pontiac, Mich. "They are looking to fill a lot of jobs."
This story -- one in a series about workforce development and higher education -- was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet based at Teachers College, Columbia University.