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Spring Advisories: Preparing our Regional Workforce for Success

By Jesse Flores

April 2021 was a month filled with dynamic industry discussions for Valley Vision, as it hosted three Regional Industry Advisories funded by Los Rios Community College District Strong Workforce Program and in partnerships with Sierra College, Yuba Community College District, and the Capital Region workforce boards. The Advisories’ objectives included building strong relationships between employers, educators, and workforce partners that provided timely information on skills gaps and opportunities for more ongoing engagement. April’s advisories served to foster workforce pipelines into the Sacramento Region’s diverse sectors, some of which have been especially harmed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, as emphasized throughout the Advisories, the region’s workforce partners can play a strong role in meeting industry demand for a skilled workforce that helps industries pivot and thrive.

The month’s series of virtual Advisories began with Retail, Hospitality, and Tourism (RHT), an industry especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, but in recovery. Keynote Speaker Mike Testa of Visit Sacramento shared an optimistic re-opening of Sacramento’s RHT industry and its benefits for the region, saying “This isn’t just about the City of Sacramento – it’s about everybody else“.  An Industry Insights Panel featuring employers followed, emphasizing how businesses pivoted with COVID-19 and their demand for a diverse RHT workforce that possesses critical thinking, emotional intelligence, and communication skills. Afterwards, Dr. Robert Eyler offered an engaging presentation on economic and policy conditions behind the RHT industry. For a more detailed look at the Advisory, take a look at our separate blog on the event here!

Mike Testa of Visit Sacramento presenting on the recovery of Sacramento’s tourism sector.

Next was a Regional Industry Advisory on Gerontology, Geriatrics and Business Services in the Field of Aging, which began with a presentation on shifting demographics and occupational data by North/Far North Center of Excellence Research Manager, Ebony Benzing. This data further informed industry insights provided by keynote speaker Leading Age California President and CEO, Jeannee Parker Martin, and the employer panel on arising issues in the field. Towards the end of the event, American River College’s Gerontology Department Chair and Career Education Program Coordinator, Laurinda Reynolds, presented on ageism and interventions that could promote careers in the field.

Ebony Benzing of Center of Excellence presenting on demographics and occupational data.

The month’s Advisories finished off with a cross-sector look at Automation & AI in Agriculture and Manufacturing. The event uniquely featured two industry panels, one focusing on current employer needs and the second focusing on the future of automation in food processing. “There’s a common theme when you walk into a processing plant… how can we keep the plant running, with limited supply of people who are available? That is the biggest challenge,” described Raf Peeters, CEO and Founder of Qcify, Inc. and one of the Advisory’s employer panelists. Employers went on to describe the need for workers who can operate this automation and AI technology, which workforce partners can assist with through course development and trainings

Industry panel featuring employers from Automation/AI in Manufacturing and Agriculture.

By the end of April, Valley Vision and its community college and workforce partners had successfully facilitated a wide range of opportunities for employer engagement to inform curriculum development. The ongoing pandemic’s toll on Sacramento Region industries has made it increasingly important for workforce pipelines to be responsive to employer and worker needs. These needs have been carefully documented by Valley Vision staff throughout its 2020-21 academic year advisories, which included data-driven presentations and employer discussions on the following sectors:

Additional information on advisories can be found via the links above. Valley Vision and the Sacramento Region’s workforce stakeholders greatly appreciate the attendees who have contributed their valuable insights into the curriculum development process.

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance a future-ready workforce in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our 21st Century Workforce email newsletter!


Jesse Flores is a Valley Vision Project Associate supporting initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce and Clean Economy impact areas.

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