Employers today seek ways to create access to an employable, highly skilled workforce that can fill the jobs in demand as technology and market conditions rapidly evolve. A new statewide workforce initiative of $200 million signed by Governor Jerry Brown aims to boost the number of skilled workers produced by California Community Colleges. Valley Vision convened employers across the Sacramento Region, at the invitation of the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO), to discuss the Strong Workforce Program (SWP), in an important exchange that enabled private sector interests to contribute industry feedback that assures SWP investments address employer needs.
What is the goal?
The goal is to assist the Sacramento Capital Region’s Community Colleges with increasing employer engagement and to provide employers a direct line of feedback to the colleges, especially as it pertains to how SWP funds will be utilized.
Why is this important?
Many middle skilled jobs often go unfilled today, resulting in a huge missed economic opportunity for our region. A region offering an educated and skilled workforce that meets demands of state, regional and local economies benefits the labor market. It also benefits students and provides residents with alternative career pathway options. The SWP will create career pathways needed to lift people out of poverty, create regional economic vitality, and also serve to recruit and retain employers.
How does this improve people’s lives?
The notion of “Bachelor’s Degree or Bust,” is an outdated strategy. California’s Community Colleges recognize that it’s better to focus on career technical education (CTE) at the post-secondary level, allowing students to obtain a certificate/associate’s degree with technical skills and on-the-job experiences. As California expands environmental causes and new clean legislations are passed, we will see a growing demand for technical skills in the clean sector. CTE programs with an environmental focus, such as Solar Energy Technology and Diesel Technology/ Electric Car Technology, are becoming more readily available. These and other CTE pathways allow for social mobility and provide students with an alternative to the four-year college route.
What is Valley Vision’s role?
Valley Vision is leveraging relationships with private-public stakeholders for cross sector collaborations, employer engagement and regional partnerships to make certain that CTE programs meet the supply and demand of the labor market. Valley Vision facilitates alignment and collaboration across employers, community colleges, four-year institutions, workforce development boards, and other workforce system partners. Valley Vision’s Next Economy Workforce project provides a substantial body of knowledge in regard to employers’ needs, workforce skills gaps and action plans needed to support high-performing business clusters and employers’ top needs.
What is our desired impact?
To help the region’s community college system develop a clear and defined career pathway program that leads to jobs or technical degree programs at four-year universities; create a skilled and competitive workforce for the Sacramento Capital Region; generate a pathway out of poverty through CTE programs; and support employers by providing them with skilled workers they need.
Valley Vision began working with Los Rios Community College District and other community college partners in December 2016 and will continue engaging employers through 2018.