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Sunday, August 18, 2019
Opinion

A Skilled Workforce Supports a Vision 2 Succeed

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A Skilled Workforce Supports a Vision 2 Succeed

By San Bernardino County Deputy Executive Officer, Reg Javier 

San Bernardino County, July 17, 2019 — Earlier this year, the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board released its Labor Market Intelligence, Workforce Roadmap report (https://www.selectsbcounty.com/blog) citing that the County of San Bernardino remains one of the fastest growing economies in California in terms of overall job growth. Moreover, among California’s ten largest counties, San Bernardino County was the second-fastest growing. In fact, the County added more than 130,000 jobs since 2010.

That’s impressive. However, it is important for our County leadership to look at that data through the broader perspective of what it means to the future of the region, as well as how our County can best support the ongoing success of the businesses that choose to invest here as well as the residents that call San Bernardino County home.

While growth is good it can also strain vital resources – the greatest being the ongoing availability and development of a skilled workforce to move business and the economy forward.

The Workforce Roadmap noted this trend as the reason that the County’s economy is expected to grow at a slower rate over the near term as compared to previous years. The report shared that job creation has outpaced the County’s labor force growth every year since 2012, supporting the fact that job growth going forward will be bound by our supply of labor. This lack of labor is a similar challenge for most of the country as unemployment rates remain historically low.

While some slowdown may be inevitable, the data from the Workforce Roadmap is designed to help provide insight into where the County and its partners should invest time and tools to best alleviate workforce shortages as well as how best to target those industries with greatest growth potential.

In the Workforce Roadmap report, manufacturing, healthcare and logistics were cited as the leading growth industries for the County. Since 2010 manufacturing employment in the County has outpaced not just the state but also the entire nation. The County’s healthcare sector is expected to make the largest contribution to job gains in the region over the period of 2018 to 2028. Finally, since mid-2009, the logistics sector has nearly doubled in size in San Bernardino County.

Fully maximizing that business potential, as well as encouraging growth in all industry sectors, requires an ecosystem in which stakeholders work side by side to develop and train a workforce prepared for career opportunities, particularly in these high-growth industries.

San Bernardino County is uniquely positioned to help its residents receive the skills they need to prosper in the 21st century economy. This year the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors endorsed the Vision2Succeed campaign (http://vision2succeed.org/) to encourage residents and businesses to get involved in learning experiences and programs that help to propel career growth and lifelong learning. Across the County there is a strong system of schools, colleges and universities as well as training and job resource centers that benefit residents and employers.

To that end, the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (WDB)(http://wp.sbcounty.gov/workforce/) is a great resource for employers and job seekers in the County. This body of professionals supervises the allocation of federal funding targeted to strengthen the skills of the County’s local workforce. WDB is led by local business owners and includes public partners, educators, labor leadership and community-based organizations. Businesses can benefit from free and low costs programs such as a free human resources hotline, customized training programs and on-the-job training funds, among many others offered through the WDB’s Business Services team.

While these programs are focused on business today, it is WDB’s commitment to plan for the future that is becoming increasingly important and where local business owners can play the most significant role.

Long term County growth resides in the potential of its youth. The WDB and partners recently established GenerationGo! Career Pathways (http://wp.sbcounty.gov/workforce/career-pathways/), a countywide program providing work-based learning opportunities to high school students. This proactive program brings education and business together to ensure that the County’s youth are ready to enter the workforce with the skills needed to compete.

A great example of the application is a partnership with Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. GenerationGo! was piloted at Cajon High School in the city of San Bernardino, with students completing 120 hours of clinical practice at Arrowhead Regional Medical Center. The students were introduced to a variety of career opportunities in the medical field while further propelling them along a valuable career path for college or technical training. The high school seniors were then able to take a state test to gain medical assistant certificates that made them eligible for entry-level work in medical offices and hospitals.

This successful business and education partnership is just one example of how the County is preparing students for a designated high-growth sector and helping them on a pathway to further their training and college and career options. More importantly it is a direct solution to developing the next generation workforce that will help propel the County’s economy forward. When businesses are involved in internships and apprenticeships they are developing their own future workforce and creating certainty in their long-term growth.

To understand the value to the business owner, consider the comments by Arrowhead Regional Medical Center Hospital Director William Gilbert who shared that, “When people think of healthcare careers they often think of nurses and doctors, but this pilot program exposes high school students to the array of career options in medicine. These are good paying jobs with significant upward mobility. It’s rewarding for us to be part of this program to not only educate, but to also help to retain our County’s best and brightest young people.”

The ongoing success of Generation Go! is dependent on business engagement. The County is currently seeking businesses that are willing to provide work-based learning experiences, through internships, as part of a high school curriculum. Interested businesses should email GenGo@wdd.sbcounty.gov for more information.

San Bernardino County has a Vision 2 Succeed. It is an exciting and forward-looking view of success that allows this region to retain its role as a jobs and population growth leader now and for the long term and provide a solid career pathway for youth while giving business a foundation for growth.

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Inland Empire Business Journal
The Inland Empire Business Journal (IEBJ) is the official business news publication of Southern California’s Inland Empire region - covering Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.