A region-wide economic analysis conducted in 2012 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 regional jobs-growth strategy as business clusters that 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.

Recognizing that the 2012 research findings were out of date and that market conditions were dramatically different since the original cluster study was conducted, JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded Valley Vision a $75,000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 refresh 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, based on the findings of the new cluster research.

What is the goal?

The goal is to identify critical workforce skills gaps within the region’s highest growth clusters; mobilize and align cluster stakeholders around job strategies in those clusters; create targeted workforce action plans that close skills gaps, increase education and training resources, and improve economic impact of the clusters.

Why is this important?

Refreshed research is necessary to understand the skills gap issues prevalent in economic clusters and to optimize the benefits of recovery. To do so, Valley Vision wanted to understand the current state of the economy, align efforts across stakeholders, and strategically plan for continued prosperity, job creation and growth.

Plus, 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 help identify employers’ needs and are assisting educational institutes better understand what they must provide to address the workforce skills gaps.

How does this improve people’s lives?

Our research identified emerging areas of job growth and critical skills gaps in key occupations. Economic prosperity will increase as a result of new strategies that ensure a skilled workforce and thereby allowing companies to expand and be more competitive.  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.

What is Valley Vision’s role?

Leveraging existing partnerships, strong regional networks and the baseline work of Next Economy, Valley Vision 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.

Valley Vision then 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. Valley Vision continues to convene stakeholders to advance the seven action plans. 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 Economy and the Food and Agriculture clusters to get a more holistic understanding.

What is our desired impact?

To understand the needs of emerging growth sectors and  the structure of the economy. Research will be used to inform a region-wide workforce skills action plan that will align education and training with regional employment demands. By understanding where job growth potential exists, we are able to target action plans to those needs and ensure that the Sacramento Capital Region has the skilled workforce needed to drive a growing global economy.


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.

Through a second two-year grant awarded by JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded  August 2016, a second phase of work continues until July 2018.

Our partners …

Maximizing the investment from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., Valley Vision is partnering with the Centers for Excellence, Los Rios Community Colleges District to conduct an updated cluster analysis.

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