California workforce programs to be honored at the 2019 California Economic Summit

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(Photo Credits: Volt Institute, Shasta College, The Wonderful Company)

Three California public-private partnership workforce development programs will be highlighted at the California Economic Summit in Fresno on November 7 as winners of the 2019 Partnerships for Industry & Education (PIE) Contest.

The PIE Contest rewards employer-education partnership programs that are making progress in preparing California workers with skills they need to succeed in their region. The Walt Disney Company supported the Contest this year as the marquee sponsor.

“At Disney, we’ve always believed that education and training are the keys to opportunity, they open doors and create new possibilities,” said Jayne Parker, senior executive vice president and chief human resources officer for The Walt Disney Company.

Nominees for the contest were partnerships between an employer (public or private) and a California educational institution (K-12, higher education, public and/or private) with a proven ability to demonstrate specific success outcomes. Nearly 100 programs were nominated this year.

The 2019 PIE Contest winners are:

  1. The Wonderful Agriculture Career Prep program (Ag Prep) operates in eight high schools throughout the Central Valley. The program begins in the freshman year of high school as students participate in an Early College curriculum that allows them to graduate with both a high school and an associate degree. After high-school graduation, Ag Prep students either begin their career or move to a four-year college as a junior, with scholarships from The Wonderful Company.
  2. The Shasta College STEP-UP program, which serves Shasta, Tehama and Trinity Counties, provides education and vocational training to formerly incarcerated students and students who are under court-ordered supervision. The students can work toward certificates in technical education (CTE) or an associate degree and receive hands-on instruction and are able to apply what they learn through internships and industry consortiums. The goal is to best prepare them for employment in the community.
  3. VOLT Institute started in 2016 as a partnership between the Stanislaus County Office of Education, Modesto Junior College and Opportunity Stanislaus. Its goal is to train a high-skilled workforce for the local manufacturing industry currently facing a skills gap. Opportunity Stanislaus estimates more than 300 positions for Industrial Maintenance Mechanics and Advanced Manufacturing go unfilled each year because there is a lack of qualified workers.

We will highlight each program in depth in upcoming blogs and you can read about all of the top 10 nominees in this year's 2019 PIE Contest Booklet.

The PIE Contest, now in its third year, attracted dozens of nominees that highlighted many other very successful workforce development programs in California. Past winners are training workers in sectors like aerospace manufacturing, steel manufacturing, early childhood education, construction and health care.

For Californians to have the skills required for jobs in the 21st century, employers and educators will need to work more intentionally together. Participants of the California Economic Summit since the beginning have identified better workforce preparation as a top priority for helping more Californians get well-paying, upwardly mobile jobs.

“The PIE Contest identifies public–private partnerships that connect the strategic workforce plan of businesses with regional workforce development priorities,” said Micah Weinberg, CEO of CA Fwd. “This year's winners and the dozens of other programs that were reviewed show that there's great cooperation between our educators and employers–a trend we believe must accelerate to meet California's workforce needs of the 21st century.”


Ed Coghlan

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