SAN DIEGO (CNS) - City, education and business leaders unveiled a plan Tuesday to provide San Diego workers with the skills they'll need to be successful in the so-called ``innovation economy'' and increase access to an affordable education.
Recommendations from a task force appointed last year by Mayor Kevin Faulconer seek to address the skills gap, the difference between the jobs that local high-tech and biotech companies need to fill, and the abilities of local residents. The initiative focuses on under-served communities.
``There is a growing chasm between good paying, middle-class job openings and workers with the skills to fill them,'' Faulconer said. ``Today, we are taking action to help our residents gain the education they need to begin a successful career and bring economic opportunity to our underserved communities.''
The eight recommendations:
-- creating a region-wide effort that concentrates on advanced manufacturing, clean-tech and energy, healthcare, information technology and life sciences, which were identified as industries with high pay, demand and growth;
-- developing a local strategy for allocating the region's workforce resources to ensure funding priorities align with the region's employment needs and priority sectors;
-- working with major companies to increase the exposure to science, technology, engineering and math education and careers;
-- creating tailored ``bridge programs'' for graduating high school seniors in each of the five priority sectors with San Diego Unified School District and area community colleges;
-- offering economic incentives for priority sector businesses to open and expand in low-to moderate-income neighborhoods like City Heights and Southeast San Diego;
-- establishing a Workforce Cabinet to bring together leaders in education, business, philanthropy and workforce development to advise the mayor on building a stronger San Diego workforce;
-- enlisting businesses in creating meaningful partnerships with schools, community colleges and the San Diego Workforce Partnership involving summer jobs, internships and work-based learning activities; and
-- setting a summer jobs or youth employment goal.
``I will not only work to implement these recommendations, but I want them to serve as a nationwide catalyst for breaking barriers for minority and
low-income by providing new opportunities to become the engineers, healthcare providers and scientists of tomorrow,'' Faulconer said.
The task force was led by San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. President and CEO Mark Cafferty, San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance Carroll and UC San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor of Public Programs Mary Walshok.
Members included representatives of the San Diego Unified School District, San Diego State University, San Diego Workforce Partnership, San Diego Gas & Electric, Qualcomm, Northrop Grumman, Sharp Healthcare, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and United Way of San Diego County.
According to research conducted by the Workforce Partnership and EDC, attainment of high school and higher education diplomas since 2004 in San Diego has remained flat, but today's employers expect more education and technical expertise of their workers.
``We know the jobs of tomorrow are being created today by San Diego's innovation economy,'' said Cindy Marten, superintendent of San Diego Unified. ``Our challenge, as a school system, is to prepare our students for the workforce they will enter upon graduation. STEM education and early interventions are critical components of this work.''
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