Hey, California – We’ve got a job for you

150 150 Ed Coghlan

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(Factory photo: California Steel Industries, Inc.)

Let me ask you a question.

Is California’s workforce adequately prepared?

The answer is an emphatic “No” and it’s not getting better. In fact, we are slipping.

A report by California Competes issued this week hammers home the point. “California has slipped as an economic leader because our colleges, universities and trade schools are not producing enough highly skilled graduates. Among the states, California ranks 23rd in terms of the proportion of adults ages 25 to 64 with an associ­ate’s degree or above,” the report states.

 As a group putting the spotlight on the danger of letting higher education slide, we strongly encourage flipping through the report. The media around the state picked up the story, like the Mercury News.

One answer to our job training may be in the community college system.

“With a growing student base of high school graduates, veterans and unemployed workers, community colleges are essential to the state filling its jobs needs in coming years,” Eloy Ortiz Oakley, president of Long Beach City College told the L.A. Times.

This lack of workforce preparation has been identified as a huge problem. The California Economic Summit is spending considerable time on the subject in advance of its June 30 report. The Summit, which was held May 11 in Santa Clara, has identified two important actions that need to be taken

1. Prioritize existing workforce training and career education on major industry sectors, or in other words, prepare workers for the jobs that are and will be available.

2. Align state agencies in workforce and economic development to support the training, with a particular task of revising provisions of Community College Economic and Workforce Program to better train our workers.

That may sound like wonk talk to you, but to people in California who are trying to hire people for jobs, it’s just what the doctor ordered. In the rebounding manufacturing sector of California, trained workers are hard to find. Here’s how they are dealing with it in San Bernardino County.

I was talking to a friend recently who owns a 60-year-old aircraft parts manufacturing company in Arleta in the San Fernando Valley.

What’s the toughest part of his job, I asked.

“Finding and keeping qualified workers,” he said.

We have a job to do in the state. And that job is to better prepare our residents for their next jobs.

We’ll be announcing some specific recommendations from the Summit on June 30.


Ed Coghlan

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