Capital Region Cluster Workforce Action Plan: Mobilizing to Meet Critical Skills Gaps

On May 3rd, Valley Vision held the Capital Region Workforce Summit at UC Davis to present the region’s Cluster Workforce Action Plan.

The Plan

Developed in partnership with Los Rios Center of Excellence, the Burris Service Group and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), the Action Plan is the culmination of an intensive nine month process to identify emerging job growth opportunities and high demand occupations across the region’s six Next Economy business clusters. With instant polling, summit participants had a chance to weigh on their priorities for each cluster. We also heard from an inspiring group of local employers and state and national leaders on trends in workforce excellence that can be a spring board for our region.

The Action Plan targets strategies where employers are facing critical skills gaps. The skills gap paradox – where good-paying jobs currently go unfilled even though people need jobs and pathways to a better standard of living – is a national workforce challenge.

With new opportunities arising post-recession, the Capital Region is stepping up to this challenge. Powered by a grant from JPMorgan Chase and Co., the project generated six cluster research studies which were the foundation to convene forums with employers throughout the region. The forums elevated the highest areas of demand for needed workforce skills, and gaps in the education and workforce training systems to meet these needs.

The People

Summit highlights included Region VI Department of Labor Administrator Virginia Hamilton discussing the importance of human-centered design in workforce systems; Karen Persichilli Keogh, Head of Global Philanthropy at JP Morgan Chase and Co., talking about why the firm is investing nationally in its New Skills at Work Initiative to address the middle-skills gap; Van Ton-Quinlivan, Vice Chancellor for Workforce and Economic Development, California Community Colleges, describing new initiatives to drive regional workforce opportunities, including apprenticeships and maker spaces; and John Moon, District Manager of Community Engagement, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, on why collective impact approaches are need to achieve big regional outcomes like truly preparing youth to succeed in education and work.

Local leaders, including Gary King (SMUD), Shawna Erdmann (Intel) and Kristie Griffin (Dignity Health), talked about their innovative approaches to common workforce challenges, such as college and career readiness, career awareness, diversity in the workplace, and employer partnerships. Griffin also communicated the importance of the landmark health workforce pilot involving the Sacramento region’s four major health systems, recently announced by the White House. Brian Bedford, CEO of NextEd, provided a roadmap for how the region’s education and workforce development system can better align with the regional economy and needs of our students and workers. Chancellor Brian King, Los Rios Community College District, wrapped up with our call to action – while our economy is recovering and our unemployment rate has dropped below 6%, youth unemployment is almost 25%. They are our future – we must do better for them and all of us.

Next Steps

We’ll be moving forward on the Action Plan in the coming months and invite your collaboration and participation in this vital work. We will be rolling out research reports and Summit proceedings – including polling results on Action Plan priorities – soon. Let us know how we can work together to move our region forward.

Thanks to our Summit sponsors: JPMorgan Chase and Co., Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, Golden Sierra Workforce Development Board, UC Davis World Food Center, and the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.


Trish Kelly is Senior Vice President of Valley Vision working in the food system, workforce, broadband, and land use portfolios.

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