* Capital Region Workforce Action Plan

In 2012, a region-wide economic analysis was released that turned attention to six promising business clusters that the Sacramento region could tap for job creation and growth opportunity. Advanced Manufacturing, Education and Knowledge Creation, Clean Energy Technology, Information and Communications Technology, Health Care and Life Sciences, and Food and Agriculture were all identified through the Next Economy initiative as business clusters where the region has innate advantages, the strongest potential for growth based on economic performance indicators, and – together with our prevailing government and construction sectors – could comprise a diversified, robust and sustainable regional economy.

The original cluster research study was commissioned by Next Economy partners in 2012 when the Sacramento region was still digging out from the 2008 recession. The region’s economic hardships then had a lot to do with being too heavily reliant on just two economic drivers – government and construction. While vital and significant, the dominance of these two sectors in the region’s economic equation left our economy unbalanced, unprepared and badly hit.

Immigration is just one factor influencing the shortage of agricultural laborers (August 2017)

It had been four years since that research was conducted and 2016 looked a lot different than 2012. The region had fully recovered the 140,000 jobs lost during the recession years. We had seized a handful of multi-million-dollar grants focused on growing these clusters, and launched new and innovative partnerships and initiatives. There was another big shift that has occurred since 2012: The Sacramento region is no longer reacting to a recession. Instead, we are taking planned and focused action to expand, support and increase the economic outputs of the business clusters that are deemed our best chance for a vibrant and long-term regional economy.

Recognizing that the 2012 research findings were out of date and that market conditions were dramatically different since the original cluster study was conducted, JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded Valley Vision a $75,000 grant in 2015 to refreshe the analysis for all six Next Economy-identified clusters of opportunity. JPMorgan Chase & Co. then awarded Valley Vision another two-year $150,000 grant to implement a regionwide Workforce Action Plan, the resulting strategy of the new cluster research. 

Phase I (Timeline 2015-2016): Valley Vision partnered with Los Rios Center of Excellence to research and analyze six business clusters, in addition to conduct market research with employers and stakeholders for each cluster. Each cluster assessment will include: 1) Updated cluster definition and supply chains, 2) industry trends, 3) occupations outlook, 4) skills assessment, and 5) education assessment.

Phase II (Timeline 2016-2018): Valley Vision is supporting the implementation of the Sacramento Capital Region Cluster Workforce Action Plans developed through the 2015 JPMorgan Chase & Co. grant. The Action Plans identify strategies, priorities and implementation recommendations for the six Next Economy high growth business clusters, along with an overarching, action plan that address workforce skills gaps for multiple industries. Phase II will focus on:

  • Region-wide, career awareness marketing campaign across all clusters
  • Continued proactive engagement of employers and other workforce system partners to drive action plan
  • In-depth skills mapping for high demand occupations for each cluster
  • Expanded research within newly identified clusters of opportunity: Construction, Hospitality, Tourism, Food and Ag, and the Clean Economy
  • Support for the education and career pathway system realignment underway through Align Capital Region

What is the goal?

The goal is to update the region's cluster economic analysis, identify critical workforce skills gaps that exist within the six Next Economy-identified clusters today; mobilize and align cluster stakeholders around job strategies; create targeted workforce action plans for each cluster that identifies skills gaps, education and training resources, and economic impact of the clusters; continue employer and workforce system partner engagement to strategize implementation of action plans; and conduct analysis of new high-growth clusters for the Sacramento Capital Region. 

Why is this important?

This refreshed cluster research is necessary to understand the skills gap issues prevalent in our core clusters and to optimize the benefits of economic recovery. To do so, we must understand the current state of our economy, align efforts across stakeholders, and strategically plan for continued prosperity, job creation and growth.

Facing numerous workforce challenges such as an aging workforce, not enough supply of skilled workers to fill open positions, millennials wanting to work in “cool” high paying companies like tech firms rather than manufacturing jobs, and current applicants having little or no hands-on experience, the region has not realized the full potential of the economy recovery. The research and action plans have helped identify employers' needs and are assisting educational institutes better understand what they must provide to address the workforce skills gaps. See Workforce Action Plan Infographic.

What is Valley Vision doing about it?

Valley Vision is leveraging existing partnerships, strong regional networks and the baseline work of Next Economy. Maximizing the investment from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., and partnering with the Centers for Excellence, Los Rios Community Colleges District to conduct the cluster analysis, Valley Vision has released a total of six Next Economy Cluster Workforce Needs Assessment reports and an additional Key Findings: Next Economy Cluster Findings report. Each provides a current analysis of the cluster's industry trends, economic impact, occupational outlook and educational program assessment.

In phase I, Valley Vision convened six cluster-specific forums to vet findings, identify priorities and recommend action strategies. This research and engagement process activated champions and created leadership opportunities within the cluster. The information has helped industry stakeholders, educators and workforce and economic development specialists make smart and coordinated decisions.  

In phase II, Valley Vision is continuing to convene stakeholders to advance the seven action plans that were a result of phase I. In partnership with Los Rios Center of Excellence, Valley Vision will also create additional Workforce Assessments Reports for the Construction and Hospitality and Tourism clusters, and conduct additional research on the region's Clean Ecoomy and the Food and Agriculture clusters to get a more holistic understanding. 

What is our desired impact?

Phase I: To gain new understanding of emerging growth sectors that did not exist in 2012, discern how the structure of the economy has changed, gather important insights to the impacts that Next Economy implementation has had. The new research will also be used to inform a region-wide workforce skills action plan that will align education and training with regional employment demands.

Phase II: Now that we understand where job growth potential exists across the cluster, identified critical gaps and received employer market research, we are able to target the action plans to those needs and ensure that the Sacramento Capital Region has the skilled workforce that is needed to drive a growing global economy. Working with education and workforce partners to better align resources with employer needs want to affirm that the Sacramento Capital Region is competitive with other regions and can become an innovation and job hub. 

How does this effort affect triple-bottom-line objectives?

EconomyPhase I: The 2016 updated research is identifying emerging areas of job growth and critical skills gaps in key occupations. Economic prosperity will increase through strategies to ensure a skilled workforce, thereby allowing companies to expand and be more competitive. Phase II: The action plans identified key workforce skills gaps and prioritized employers’ needs on occupations in demand. Many of these occupations are middle-skilled level- meaning these pathways require an associate’s degree, certificate or training- and can be used as a pathway out of poverty for future generations.

EnvironmentPhase I: The project has update the definition of the clean economy cluster and increase the region’s competitiveness as a center for development of environmentally sustainable technologies, services and products, such as waste to renewable energies and alternative transportation systems. Phase II: Valley Vision is conduct a deeper analysis of the clean economy, build on the initial action plan assessment report, to better define the cluster’s industry trends and job count in the region, workforce needs, key occupations and pathways.

EquityPhase I & II: Many middle skill jobs offering quality employment and career opportunities go unfilled because workers lack needed skills. Aligning education and training resources to prepare both new and existing workers with pathways to gain requisite skills will both increase their employability and also provide new opportunities for income mobility.


Phase I: JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded Valley Vision the research grant in July 2015. The project began in the fall of 2015 and all six cluster reports were completed in May 2016. A Regional Workforce Summit was held in May 2016 and the Key Findings: Next Economy Cluster Research report was released in August 2016.

Phase II: JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded Valley Vision a two-year grant in August 2016. The second phase work began in September 2016 and will continue until July 2018. A one-year learning forum will be convened in May 2016, where Valley Vision will share the progress on the seven regional action plans and top priorities for 2018.

This work is made possible through generous support from J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.