Our Roadmap to Education & Workforce: Cradle Through Career

As we focus on further diversifying our workforce to better match the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, we know it requires a laser-like focus on equipping young people with deeper access to educational opportunities, and the workforce experiences needed, to capture careers in the innovation economy.

At the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, our efforts truly extend from cradle to career. One of our key initiatives focuses on Community Colleges – linking those colleges with each other, and with employers throughout the region. Our “Community College to Career” Initiative, or “CC2C,” — a partnership with 18 Bay Area Community Colleges that provides educational and workforce training opportunities for 287,000 students — is one of the best opportunities we have to not only greatly diversify our workforce, but to re-grow our region’s middle class.

Consider the students who attend our Community Colleges, and you will find a mirror image that truly reflects our region – 77 percent are racially diverse; 54 percent female. We also know that while many jobs in technology require a four-year degree or higher, a large percentage of high-paying jobs in the innovation economy only require a two-year degree or credential. It is part of the Community College charter to equip students with the workforce skills needed to secure meaningful careers, which makes our Community Colleges nimble by design, reflecting the changing needs of employers.

In 2018, a Beta-Test year for our new “CC2C” partnership, we were able to provide work-based learning opportunities for nearly 600 students. In 2019, our second Beta-Test year, that goal is stretched to nearly 800. To scale, we know that in 2020 and beyond, we need to grow into the “thousands.”

To achieve that type of impact requires impactful leaders. At the Leadership Group, we are fortunate to have Dr. David Palter leading the charge in facilitating these partnerships. Prior to joining us, David taught labor history, social movements and globalization at UC Santa Cruz, helping to shape educational and economic opportunity in California. His passion for inclusive conversations lends itself to CC2C’s systemic approach to increasing upward mobility – partnering with a wide range of employers and trainers to strengthen our region’s middle class.

In addition to 18 Community College Presidents and their Chancellors, our employer community continues to step up, with visionary leadership from JP Morgan Chase, the San Francisco Chronicle, Blach Construction, Silicon Valley Bank, Steinberg Hart, Lawrence Livermore National Labs and Caltrans.

The name currently missing from this collective effort could very well be yours. If you are interested, please let us know. We live in a region fueled by innovation, where our greatest assets can be the individuals in each of our communities who are already enrolled in our Community Colleges. Let’s attain them, train them, and sustain them in a workforce that values diversity, equity and inclusion. Contact Dr. David Palter today at dpalter@svlg.org.

–   Carl Guardino, CEO, Silicon Valley Leadership Group | January 28, 2019