The Summit prescription for what must be done to improve our workforce

580 200 Ed Coghlan

(Photo: MediaLabPrado/Flickr)

The pieces to improve the California workforce are in place.

It is a “must” that the pieces are put together so that the state is producing a deep pipeline of talented and adaptive workers. And it needs to happen now!

A trained and relevant workforce is the closest thing to a cure for the growing economic insecurity and declining upward mobility that plagues our state. The fact that 18 million Californians live in or near poverty is unacceptable.

In order to sustain and grow California’s huge economy — fifth largest in the world — workers must be relevant not only to the job descriptions of today, but also, as importantly, to the rapidly changing job description of tomorrow.

For the past eight years, the California Economic Summit has partnered with business, government and civic organizations to align regional workforce priorities with state policies.

The Summit's annual Partnerships in Industry and Education contest, which highlights successful partnerships between educators and employers, has generated more interest every year. After closing the 2019 nomination period last week, we've tallied even more nominations than last year's contest.

We’ve also learned many things during that time and know that the system is not yet ready to efficiently serve the needs of California’s students, workers, employers and entrepreneurs.

It is imperative that colleges, workforce development and agencies get on and stay on the same page in order to meet the demands of California’s dynamic economy.

Billions of public sector dollars are flowing to address the issue. We must build many more strong and durable partnerships to make sure those dollars are well spent.

The prescription has three elements:

  1. California must drive these investments toward outcomes. To increase the return on this massive investment, schools, colleges and universities need to meld the various initiatives into sturdy unified pathways.
  2. The Future of Work is Now. The new educational infrastructure must deploy technology and refine public financial support to the needs of life-long learning.
  3. Remember the 18 Million. For economic and demographic reasons, those who have been left behind must be mainstreamed into the world of work and a higher quality of life.

“Quite simply, there is a critical need for all of the people working on addressing the state’s workforce to work together better,” said Alma Salazar, senior vice president of the Center for Education Excellence and Talent Development at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “There’s no better place to address this alignment issue between education and employers than the California Economic Summit.”

The 2019 California Economic Summit will be held in Fresno on November 7-8, gathering hundreds of Californians committed to working on plans and action items in areas like workforce, housing, ecosystem vitality, and more. Registration opens on August 1 and details on speakers, the agenda, and special events are coming. Sign up for the Summit newsletter today to stay up to date.


Ed Coghlan

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