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Building Resilient Skills in the Face of Uncertainty

“Think about it: The pace of change has never been this fast, yet it will never be this slow again.” Justin Trudeau made this statement at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2018.  In Valley Vision’s 21st Century Workforce impact area, we are seeing the truth of this statement over and over again.  The joint pressures of coming out of one of the largest dislocations of workers in our history, the accelerated adoption of automation, and the necessity of determining a recovery strategy inclusive of our region’s diverse workforce combine to require a novel, aligned strategy to prepare our entire population for the Future of Work.  

Valley Vision has been working on Future of Work strategies for several years.  With funding from the Capital Region’s four workforce boards; Sacramento Employment and Training Agency, Golden Sierra Job Training Agency, North Central Counties Consortium and YoloWorks, Valley Vision has conducted research to anticipate the skills and knowledge needed for the workplace of tomorrow to ensure a ready, regional workforce including producing Automation Risk for Jobs in the Capital Region report.  Through funding from the Los Rios Community College District, Valley Vision has convened advisories in specific industry and occupational sectors to identify emerging trends and ensure a workforce that meets employers’ evolving needs.  

Recently, through an award from the City of Sacramento CARES funds, Valley Vision was able to embark on a research partnership with Burning Glass Technologies to analyze job posting data to identify transferable, destination occupations for community members laid off from COVID-19.  This work builds off the Automation Risk for Jobs in the Capital Region report which looked at the proportion of high risk jobs within the nine county capital region and the demographics breakdown within those jobs. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we saw the jobs identified at highest risk of automation experience the highest layoffs.  The correlation of dislocated workers to high automation risk occupations points to the uncertainty of how many original jobs will return and the increasing need to prepare our region’s workforce for more resilient careers, able to withstand advances in automation and other market disruptions.  This new research from Burning Glass Technologies identifies the specific skills needed to move job seekers from high risk positions to more stable occupations at similar or higher wages.

This information will be highlighted in a joint webinar with the City of Sacramento as we review the initial research findings. Additional information will be forthcoming, identifying the highest in demand skills for employers in our region.  We invite you to stay connected to Valley Vision as we explore the Future of Work together and create pathways for all community members to benefit from our region’s shared prosperity.

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!”

Renee John is a Valley Vision Project Leader managing initiatives within the 21st Century Workforce impact area.

A Pathway to the Future of Work

Valley Vision and the Los Rios Center of Excellence recently released Automation Risk for Jobs in the Capital Region, a new research report on the impact of job automation in the nine-county Capital region. This report, supported by the four Capital region Workforce Development Boards, outlines the ways that automation could impact skills, sectors, and people. Additionally, Valley Vision held a webinar on May 15th to share the findings and bring together employers and experts to learn more about how automation is impacting companies here in the region. Ebony Benzing, Research Manager of Los Rios Center of Excellence, reported the key findings of the report:

  • Of the 1.2 million jobs in the region, 32% are at high risk of automation, 29% at medium risk of automation, and 39% are at low risk of automation.
  • Industries most at-risk of automation in the region are retail trade, accommodations and food services, and construction.
  • Of the 50 occupations that employ the most workers in the region, 13 occupations are most at risk of automation, including office clerks, administrative assistants, retail salespersons, accountants, and restaurant cooks.
  • The occupations most at risk employ nearly 19.5% of all workers in the region, and pay, on average $12.36 per hour.
  • Differing from other regions and the nation as a whole, women in the Capital region are at a higher risk of being impacted by automation due to their higher density in high automation risk occupations, including office administration, retail, and food service.
  • Of all ethnic and racial groups, historically minoritized workers are most at-risk of being impacted by automation due to the disproportionate concentration of these workers in high and medium automation risk occupations.

What has been the experience of our webinar panelists with automation and COVID-19?

  • The hospitality and tourism sector has been significantly impacted by COVID-19 and, compared to other sectors in the region, is at the highest risk of automation of jobs and skills. Mike Testa, President and CEO of Visit Sacramento, noted that the global pandemic has created significant challenges for the industry, and that new ways of doing business have emerged and may remain with us. One example that he shared was that, as work goes mobile and jobs are impacted, some functions might become less relevant, like administrative support and others, much like the data reflects.
  • David Banuelos Jr., Partnership Coordinator (CA Region 1), U.S.  Census Bureau, noted that now is the time to find opportunities for retraining. He is seeing a disproportionate impact in layoffs to low income and minority populations and notes that it will be critically important to address the needs of these populations with support and retraining opportunities.
  • While the research suggests that manufacturing sector is at high risk of automation, Kevin McGrew, Director of Quality Management at Siemens and President of the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative, indicated manufacturing is not experiencing the severity of layoffs in this region that other sectors are seeing. Rather, manufacturing has been more impacted by repurposing operations to support production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). 

What meaning can we make of the report findings?

Automation and other technology trends already in motion will only gain momentum as the global pandemic reshapes our economy and ways of doing work. Most people are experiencing significant changes to their traditional methods of work, layoffs are rampant, and many face an uncertain future. California has received 4.5 million unemployment insurance claims and anticipates an unemployment rate greater than 20% by the end of May. As these economic impacts settle in and we build towards recovery in the future, technology trends show we might not ever return to “normal” as we knew it just a few months ago. Those in low wage, high automation risk jobs are now and will remain most vulnerable to changes in our economy and the way work is done.

How do we address these challenge?

It is critically important that we work on building system resiliency in our workforce, education, and employment systems now and take concrete steps to provide appropriate training and skill-building opportunities. Valley Vision is working to advance digital skill building and digital literacy as a critical equity strategy to promote social mobility and future job readiness. Valley Vision has championed digital skill building as a regional strategy through the Prosperity Strategy work, and has led multiple digital skill projects for the last several years. We helped establish the Sacramento Coalition for Digital Inclusion, and with support from Union Bank, are focusing on Code, Digital Media Creation and Digital Literacy for 7,500 students in high-need communities where census tracts indicate broadband adoption is less than 82% in Sacramento (California’s state-wide adoption average). We are also creating broadband access during this critical time. As the manager of the Connected Capital Area Broadband Consortium (CCABC), Valley Vision coordinates efforts to fill critical broadband infrastructure gaps and improve access in homes, schools, and businesses.  This work places us at the center of strategic efforts to improve broadband access in California’s Capital Region, paving the way for future-ready infrastructure and regional prosperity. These projects are critical to closing digital skills gaps and are a key piece of the Sacramento Region’s Future of Work strategy.

As a region in the midst of rapid economic and social transformation, the challenges ahead include risks and opportunities. We need to remain encouraged, focused on navigating the needs of today while anticipating changes to come, and maintain a sense of optimism that we can create a bright, inclusive future for all. Stay tuned as Valley Vision continues advancing solutions, preparing us for a resilient and prosperous future.

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Senior Director working on the Public Opinion Surveying initiative and projects in the Healthy Communities and 21st Century Workforce impact areas.

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Building a Future-Ready Education System

People in our region are eager to learn new job skills – how will our region create the right opportunities?

Valley Vision, partnered with the Institute for Social Research at Sacramento State, recently had a new poll in the field – this time on education and workforce. This demographically representative poll across the six county region (Sacramento, Yolo, El Dorado, Placer, Yuba, and Sutter) surveyed residents on the future of work, the future of education, perceptions of and experiences with current education and workforce systems, and priorities for investments. We found that 58% of respondents said that they are ready to learn new skills to remain employable in the future and 57% would like more education and training. How will we, as a region, engage residents who are eager to gain skills and training to prepare for a changing world?

According to a recent article from the Brookings Institution, “Free college won’t be enough to prepare Americans for the future of work,” we will need a multi-pronged approach to be able to meet the needs of our future workforce. Pathway programs, career technical education, workplace training and more will be needed in addition to four-year college to create equitable opportunity and support a talented workforce in a changing world.

What are some of the challenges within the educational system?

Four-year college doesn’t work for everyone. Tuition costs, the high opportunity cost of not working,  high housing costs, and other expenses make college a difficult proposition for many. Here in Sacramento, students are struggling to afford housing and dropping out or, in some cases, attending school while homeless according to an October 3rd Sacramento Bee article, “The new face of California’s housing crisis: College students forced to drop out.”

In a society that is focused on a four-year degree, a lack of a college degree, including those who start a degree but don’t finish, is a challenge for many. Uncompleted degrees contribute to social disparities, limited ability to access opportunity, and economic hardship.  In California, 60% of adults aged 25-64 do not have a college degree. Of these, 33% have college credits without a degree and about half of them are people of color. These incompletions have serious financial consequences – an average 45-year-old who has started but not completed college has lost up to $450,000 in wages. (Back to College, Part One: California’s Imperative to Re-Engage Adults)

What are some approaches that can help?

The pace of technology and the changing needs of industry will require adult re-skilling, flexible entry- and exit- points, and more agile education and workplace systems for learning. Not all skills can be taught in the classroom. Utilizing a blend of on-the-job training, certificate programs, apprenticeships, academic classroom time, and other models creates an effective ecosystem of educational systems ready to educate and train all.

Career Technical Education (CTE) and the blended pathway approach: regional educational systems in K-12, community college, and four-year college have created pathway systems that creates a flexible learning environment with entry and exit points throughout a connected system. Valley Vision is supported by the Los Rios Community College District to connect these programs to employers in the region to ensure that educational systems are aligned with the industry needs – including job skills and anticipating emerging trends. The CTE and blended pathway approach needs to be amplified by increasing awareness and communicating its value.

According to Project Attain!, 62,000 people in the Sacramento region are within 15 units of degree completion.

Helping people complete their degree at any level: Degree or educational program completion is a critical need. Degree completion is needed in various settings, including high school, community college, accreditation or certification, or four-year college. According to Project Attain!, a program dedicated to reaching 60% degree attainment by 2025 in the Sacramento region, 62,000 people in our region are within 15 units of degree completion. Helping create and communicate a flexible educational environment helps get people who have left back on track for degrees across a spectrum of educational programming. Adult learning and retraining needs to be a strong focus in our workforce education ecosystem.

Leaders both at the local and national level must acknowledge that the changing nature of work will necessitate a sophisticated vision for creating an equitable and flexible talent ecosystem that supports learning across a lifetime. This will require new thinking and system changes to become more adaptable and relevant to today’s workers. In our region, people are eager and ready to learn – let’s make sure we have systems and programs in place to provide that opportunity.

Stay tuned…Valley Vision will be releasing our first installment of the Education and Workforce poll early next year – learn more about what our region has to say about the future of work, the future of our education systems, and perceptions on our current education and talent systems.

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Senior Director working on the Public Opinion Surveying initiative and projects in the Healthy Communities and 21st Century Workforce impact areas.

Leaping from Visioning to Visualization

Taking a major shift in a new direction is never easy, but major shifts can be a catalyst toward progress and the pursuit of big goals. This we know from our work at Valley Vision, where our purpose is to unite the region and to build the necessary energy and scale to overcome the system-sized problems we collectively face. After five and a half years at Valley Vision, I am taking a major leap in the pursuit of big goals.

It’s been an honor to have worked at Valley Vision. Nowhere else would I have had the opportunity to help impact policy, community, and economic development priorities across such a breadth of issue areas important to the Sacramento region. I’ve worked on interesting and challenging projects related to clean air, resilience and sustainability, broadband access and adoption, workforce development, and mental health, to name a few. It’s been an honor to be part of an organization that values collaboration, diversity, and evidence-based decision making. It’s also been an honor to be part of a team of colleagues who are driven, connected, and visionary.

Tammy taking Breathe California Sacramento Region’s Clean Air Pledge in 2018.

As this chapter at Valley Vision comes to a close for me, I am excited to build new skills and explore opportunities in the new world of work. Valley Vision’s work in preparing the 21st Century Workforce has highlighted the importance of building digital skills and upskilling as the future of work continues to unfold. Now is the time for me to pivot into a new opportunity to build skills in data analytics and visualization. As a first step in this journey, I’m attending a six-month intensive bootcamp starting this month! As I begin my new journey and say farewell to colleagues and friends at Valley Vision, I’d like to thank you all for the awesome, interesting, and challenging learning experience my time here has been.  In particular, my thanks go to Trish Kelly – a Woman who Means Business, recipient of the Golden Bear lifetime achievement award for economic development, leader, mentor and friend – for making my time here both rewarding and unforgettable. I look forward to following all that Valley Vision and our partners achieve for the region in the future. I also look forward to our paths crossing again soon along the way.

Tammy Cronin was a Valley Vision Project Leader working in the 21st Century Workforce and Broadband Access and Adoption impact areas. She can be reached at

Preventing Displacement in the Future of Work

The future of work will not arrive all at once, with a thud and a sudden robot takeover. Rather, incremental changes will gradually affect how work is organized and the mix of jobs in the economy. Of course, this is already happening. Technologies, like automation, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, and more are giving rise to new occupations and phasing out old ones. McKinsey Global Institute issued a new report, The Future of Work, in July 2019 describing a nuanced picture of how different geographies, occupations, and social demographics will be impacted by these changes to work as a result of technological disruption.

  • They found that for different geographies, the size and economic engine of a community makes a huge difference in how significantly job displacement impacts that area. 25 mega-cities, or the nation’s largest cities with the most dynamic economies, like San Francisco, Chicago, or Atlanta, house 96 million people and have generated most job growth since the Great Recession. These same cities could capture 60% of US job growth through 2030.  To contrast, 54 trailing or more mid-sized cities, such as Yuba City, El Paso, Texas, or Flint, Michigan and roughly 2,000 rural counties, which collectively house 78 million people, have shrinking workforces, lower educational attainment, and higher unemployment. These cities are positioned for modest job gains, but rural counties could see a decade of flat or even negative growth.
  • Some occupations are at high risk for displacement while others will change and grow. Office support, food service, transportation and logistics, and customer service roles are at high risk of displacement in the next round of automation. At the same time, the economy will continue to create jobs, particularly roles in healthcare, STEM fields, and business services, as well as work requiring personal interaction. These changes will be uneven with new jobs appearing in some place and not others – there will be challenges in addressing these mismatches in different localities and workers will need help gaining new skills.
  • Labor market outcomes already vary across demographic groups and automation could amplify these patterns. Individuals with a high school degree or less are four times more likely to hold highly automatable jobs than those with bachelor’s degrees. Hispanic and African-American workers may be hit the hardest, with up to 12 million displaced. Nearly 15 million jobs held by young people could be lost, requiring new actions around creating career pathways for today’s students and young workers. Workers over 50 hold an additional 11.5 million at-risk jobs. Finally, middle wage jobs may shrink as growth concentrates at the high and low ends of the wage scale.
Valley Vision and SETA are partnering to prevent displacement of high-risk occupations.

Where is the Sacramento region in all of this? In the McKinsey research, metropolitan Sacramento is considered a stable city – in league with other comparable cities such as Kansas City, Fresno, Stockton, Birmingham, Alabama, Indianapolis, Indiana, and many others. These cities fall between the growth of mega-cities and the risk of trailing cities and rural areas. The Brookings Institution categorized us similarly when they did an economic assessment of our region last year and came to some similar findings about our region’s need to prepare workers for a digital future. Brookings noted that we are lagging in our attainment of digital skills. The need for digital skills is increasing significantly at all job levels, but our workers are behind in the attainment of digital skills and there are disparities across demographic groups in learning these skills, with Hispanic and African-Americans falling the furthest behind.

All signs point to the need to address these realities today. Valley Vision has been actively working to create dialogue, alignment, and action to prepare us for a digital and automated future for our regional employers, education systems, and communities. We are excited to announce a new effort to address regional Future of Work challenges. Valley Vision is working with the four Capital Region Workforce Development Boards, including the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency (SETA), Golden Sierra, Yolo County, and North Central Counties Consortium to develop our own regional analysis of high-risk occupational profiles. Much like the McKinsey report outlined, different occupations and demographic groups will be impacted differently by job displacement due to automation and other technologies. We will create a much deeper understanding of how Sacramento will be affected by these differences by defining and quantifying high-risk occupations in this region. We will be able to pinpoint the risk that our region faces when it comes to displacement and use this research to develop lay-off aversion, education, and job training strategies. This cutting-edge research will provide valuable insight and help us move past our worries about the future and move towards taking action to improve our opportunities and economy.

Valley Vision has already been active with Future of Work issues and our new project will get us to the next level. Some of the key actions we’ve taken so far:

  • We have been working with the four Capital Region Workforce Development Boards on a Future of Work initiative to understand the shape and dimensions of these changes in the Capital region since 2017. Starting with forums in Yolo, El Dorado, Yuba, and Sacramento counties, Valley Vision reviewed the preeminent research from across the country exploring these changes in the nation and used the findings to create priorities with community partners from business, education, workforce, and others.
  • In May this year, we worked in partnership with the regional Workforce Development Boards to create the Future Focus event – bringing a national futurist speaker to the region to address the coming challenges.
  • We have initiated a Digital Skills Initiative to address the gap in digital skills and ready workers for the future. Through this work we are developing strategies to prepare the workforce for the future of work as part of the regional Prosperity Strategy in partnerhship with the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, and the Sacramento Metro Chamber.
  • As part of our Digital Skill focus, we are part of the Sacramento Digital Inclusion Coalition to expanding digital equity in the region.

The Future of Work will change the dimensions of our economy and impact the opportunities throughout our nation and region. In the next few months, Valley Vision will be sharing a great deal of information about how we can best prepare for this disruption. To keep up with Valley Vision’s work, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Senior Director working on the Public Opinion Surveying initiative and projects in the Healthy Communities and 21st Century Workforce strategy areas.

Future Focus Business Summit – How Will We Reinvent the Workforce?

A story: The Human Genome Project launched in 1990 and it took seven years to get one percent of the project finished. When Human Genome scientists were asked if they were concerned about the rate of completion (would it take 700 years to complete?), they responded that now that they were one percent finished, they were almost done and it should only take 6.5 years to complete.

Why was that the case? Because there was a rate of 100 percent growth per year, so, going from zero to one percent was the slowest and most difficult growth period. With this in mind, they were able to complete the project in less than seven years, doubling their output each year until the on-time completion in 2003. This is noteworthy because it demonstrates how technology growth is evolving at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, humans adapt much slower. As a result, business learning and development often lags the rate of technology growth and can fall behind quickly. It is predicted that 40% of current S&P businesses will no longer exist by 2026. Which businesses will lose their revenue stream in the next seven years and who will gain market to take advantage of those who are going under? This is a critical issue for business and for our regional economy.

These are examples and insights that Keynote Speaker, Patrick Schwerdtfeger, a futurist and expert in business trends, brought to the Future Focus Business Summit on May 15th in Roseville, hosted by the four regional Workforce Development Boards and produced by Valley Vision.

Patrick emphasized to the audience of 250 business and community leaders that current technology trends reveal where new technologies might be disruptive. For example, driverless cars are already being used in agriculture and mining – it is just a matter of time until these technologies gain enough traction to be used for commercial trucking and even city driving. Repetitive jobs, whether they are manual or cognitive, are already being replaced with automation or algorithms – this trend will only increase. Blockchain has architected trust across a supply chain by creating a chain of unhackable software. This is enabling the development of smart contracts and potentially eliminating the need for many management and tracking jobs across shipping and other related industries.

Tracking these trends can help business deploy effective strategies to harness innovation. Disruptive innovation, by definition, blows up existing business models rather than improves on existing models. This often happens in the periphery of a market. Systems are disrupted when business solves a problem in one market only to apply it to another, displacing other businesses. Patrick gave some key pieces of advice for business in this environment, including:

Look up, look down, look side to side: Look up to protect your core revenue stream in your primary market space. Look down to find the hard-to-please market segment that will require experiments and innovation to solve their problems. Look side-to-side to monitor adjacent markets – finding your own unexpected market space as well as avoiding unanticipated competitors.

Think bigger: “It’s not an experiment if you know it is going to work.” – Jeff Bezos.To innovate, you must be willing to fail. Additionally, there is more and more leverage in the system every year. The responsibility is on us – watch where innovations are happening, and run towards technology to optimize technology for the benefit of your business.

The Future Focus Summit brought Patrick to the region to help inspire and inform business to keep pace in an ever-changing environment. Patrick provided high level data and trends, but he wasn’t the only feature. There was a panel of regional business leaders who described how some of the major sectors in the region are adapting to technology changes. AJ Jacobs, Chief Information Security Officer at SMUD; Kristie Griffin, Head of Talent Management and Strategy at Stanford Healthcare; and Kevin McGrew, Director of Quality Management of Siemens noted that in regional manufacturing, energy, and health sectors, practitioners are significantly changing their business models to integrate cybersecurity, automate some of their processes, advance innovation in design practices and service delivery.

Aneesh Raman, Senior Advisor for Strategy and External Affairs, CA Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, closed the Summit. As the child of an immigrant, Aneesh is driven by the American promise of social mobility. His interest, from his position at the Governor’s Office, is to provide support and guidance to address how technology can be a vehicle for social mobility and not contribute to existing inequities. Supporting a forward-looking, inclusive economy is a core priority of Governor Newsom and he is supporting it, in part, through a new Future of Work Commission and through a new economic development initiative, Regions Rise Together. This initiative will support regional economic development plans that reflect the unique needs and goals of each region in California. Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, also addressed the role of government in supporting workforce development – encouraging government agencies to stay out of the way of successful business enterprise.

The four region Workforce Development Board organized the Future Focus Business Summit to prepare business for an uncertain future. Valley Vision produced the event because we are committed to supporting a future-ready Capital region. Our speakers and panelist helped move us from fearing a dystopian future to understanding leverage points and considering concrete ways that individual businesses and agencies can prepare for the coming changes. Local systems, research, and actions can help manage the changes that are needed. Read more about Valley Vision’s work and check out some of the services that Workforce Development Boards provide at

To keep up with Valley Vision’s work to advance livability in the Sacramento region, subscribe to our Vantage Point email newsletter!

Evan Schmidt is Valley Vision’s Senior Director working on the Public Opinion Surveying initiative and projects in the Healthy Communities and 21st Century Workforce strategy areas.

TechEdge 2019: Innovation and the Internet of Things

Last week, a room full of innovators, entrepreneurs, tech executives, networkers, and overall enthusiasts of tech and innovation within our region was hosted by the Sacramento Business Journal for the annual TechEdge at the Sheraton Grand Hotel. The conference kicked off with Congresswoman Doris Matsui setting the tone – identifying the disruption of tech as central to everything, because it touches everything that we do (i.e. the Internet of Things or IoT).

The Congresswoman further emphasized that as we gear up to be one of the first cities to offer 5G wireless technology,  we must expand access to ensure that everyone in our community has the means to participate in the world via the Internet. Mayor Darrell Steinberg also spoke on the city’s economic divide, but that Sacramento is open to the possibilities connected to the coming economic revolution that technology is bringing.

A series of topical panels with impressive speakers discussed startup funding, Sacramento and the future of mobility, new media technology, the intersection of sports, business, gaming and technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), government efforts to champion innovation through technology, the future of medical technology, and AgTech in the region.

Congresswoman Doris Matsui welcomed attendees

Four leading companies were recognized as this year’s game changers: Engage3 (an artificial intelligence (AI) and pricing innovator), Neurovision(surgical products), Rhombus Systems (security video surveillance), and Thinci (AI). These local companies have recently received significant resources to scale and grow business and jobs. Key themes of the day included entrepreneurship, disruption, utility of technology, access and adoption, and using technology to advance our region’s competitive edge across all industries.

The Sacramento Business Journal will provide articles and transcripts of the panel discussions in their May 3 print edition. If you’d like to learn more about Valley Vision’s work in the Innovation and Infrastructure space, please visit our website.

Sonia Duenas is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the 21st Century Workforce, Innovation and Infrastructure, and Leadership & Civic Engagement impact areas.

What Is the ‘Fix’ for the Capital Region’s Digital Divide?

On January 23, the Sacramento Public Library along with Valley Vision and the City of Sacramento Office of Innovation and Economic Development, co-hosted many state, regional, and local partners at the beautiful Tsakopoulos Library Galleria for the region’s first ever Digital Inclusion Summit. The purpose was to define digital equity for the Sacramento Region, identify barriers that lead to the Digital Divide, and create meaningful measurement tools. The Summit included a keynote speaker, lightning talks from 13 presenters, and group goal-setting for regional next steps.

We kicked off with Alex Bahn, Digital Equity Manager of San Francisco’s Office of Digital Equity, sharing the steps and takeaways from the San Francisco Digital Equity Playbook. The Playbook, a pilot program produced by his office, was intended for agencies serving the most vulnerable populations at risk of being digitally excluded. The office conducted focus groups and interviews at housing and workforce centers which identified barriers around digital technology adoption: feeling embarrassed, time constraints, affordability, fear of technology, language barriers, disabilities, and lack of access. By identifying the barriers, Alex and his team were able to create a playbook of resources for populations to overcome being digitally excluded in a world of increasing digitization. The more surprising takeaway (given proximity to the Silicon Valley) was the comparison of San Francisco to Sacramento in our current status in addressing digital inclusion, and our need for greater collaboration to bridge the digital gap.

Next up, 13 lightning talks from organizations across the region working to advance digital inclusion. Speakers provided key information about their efforts in the continuum goal of closing the digital divide:

  • Jared Amalong – Sacramento County Office of Education: Equity in K-12 Computer Science Education;
  • Julius Austin – Sacramento Promise Zone/SHRA: Sacramento Promise Zone – Collaboration;
  • Patrick Becknell – Mutual Housing California: Digital literacy inclusion and access in affordable housing;
  • Erika Bjork – Sacramento Metro Chamber: Trends in digital skills workforce in the region;
  • Markus Geissler – Deputy Sector Navigator of ICT-Digital Media for the Sacramento region: Beyond Computer Science: Explore all ICT Disciplines;
  • Navneet Grewel – Yellow Circle: Cybersecurity learning platform;
  • Kandace Knudson – Sacramento City College: What it looks like to support access to academic technology (our student technology help desk);
  • Cameron Law – Social Venture Partners of Sacramento: Aligning Funding toward digital inclusion/literacy;
  • Azizi Penn – YouthArtCode: My experience with the summer program YouthArtCode;
  • Stephanie Tom – California Department of Technology: Statewide Broadband efforts; state and local collaboration; private/public partnerships;
  • Harsh Verma – ACM Sacramento Chapter: ACM for Education and Future Worlds Symposium;
  • Alan Ware – AMW Design: Education strategies for underrepresented youth and other populations;
  • Andrea Willis – Sacramento County Office of Education (SCOE): USA Learns, a website that teaches ESL and helps prepare for U.S. citizenship.

The presentations were followed by goal setting led by Valley Vision. Breaking out into groups, the insight and ideas generated from each table were amazing! The following regional priorities were identified:

  1. Bring Community Together: Map regional gaps in digital inclusion. Create partnerships across sectors to connect community.
  2. Access and Competency of Use (Technical Skills)Acquire tech and computing resources, and the competency to use them.
  1. Affordability of Universal Access to the Community (Broadband)
  2. Asset MapCreate a database that serves as an asset map for a Regional Digital Literacy Initiative.

Attendees then signed up for working groups that will tackle these priorities. We are excited to push forward with these collaborative efforts to bridge the Digital Divide in the Sacramento region.

To know more about digital skills and our efforts with digital inclusion, please email Sonia Duenas, or subscribe to Valley Vision’s Vantage Point email newsletter.

Sonia Duenas is a Valley Vision Project Associate contributing to the 21st Century Workforce and Leadership & Civic Engagement impact areas.

Our People-Centered Digital Future

On Monday, December 10, Valley Vision had the honor of joining an historic event with key Internet pioneers (pictured above are Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, and Vint Cerf, known as Father of the Internet), the People-Centered Internet coalition, and the next generation of positive change agents in a discussion of Our Shared Digital Future. Valley Vision joined the ranks of “The Brain Trust of Pioneers, Change Agents, And Agents of Courage” attending the conference at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California. The event was also lived streamed on YouTube in order for a global audience to participate.

Dubbed Our People-Centered Digital Future, the conference coincided with the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and an announcement by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) that 50-percent of the global population is now connected to the Internet. Announced at the event was the release of the World Economic Forum Paper: Our Shared Digital FutureAuthored by leaders from business, government, academic, and civil society, the paper stresses an urgent need for collaboration in order to shape a digital future that is beneficial for all. It defines a set of shared goals for action in the digital space and calls on global leaders to take action in shaping our digital future.

The six shared goals highlight what is needed in order to achieve an inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital future and provide a common framework across goals:

  1. Leave no person behind: ensuring high-quality internet access and adoption for all
  2. Empower users through good digital identities: ensuring that everyone can participate in the digital society through identity and access mechanisms that empower the user
  3. Make business work for people: helping companies navigate digital disruption and evolve to new responsible business models and practices
  4. Keep everyone safe and secure: shaping norms and practices that enable a technology-dependent environment that is secure and resilient
  5. Build new rules for a new game: developing new flexible, outcome based and participatory governance mechanisms to complement traditional policy and regulation
  6. Break through the data barrier: developing innovations that allow us to benefit from data while protecting the legitimate interests of all stakeholders

Valley Vision’s impact areas and work efforts intersect with several of these shared goals. Since 2009, Valley Vision has been working to close the Digital Divide and expand broadband access and adoption. In a world where information, education, jobs, healthcare, and other services are increasingly being accessed digitally, we risk allowing people who are disconnected from the Internet to fall further behind in the opportunity divide. Through our Connected Community Initiative, we aim to close this divide and provide equitable Internet access across the region.

Moreover, regional leaders, including the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Metro Chamber, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council, and Valley Vision, are collaborating to implement a Regional Prosperity Strategy centered on an inclusive economy. The strategy is based on research from Brookings, and helps chart a course to the Sacramento region’s future economic prosperity. A major imperative for equitable prosperity is investment in digital skills training. The region needs enhanced digital skills both to grow the pool of high-skill technical workers and to expand the number of workers that have basic digital literacy. Digital skills are needed both for well-trained computer and information technology professionals such as software developers and engineers; and in order for entry-level employees to meet basic job requirements for digital software like Excel and other programs.

Over the past year, Valley Vision has been leading a regional conversation around the Future of Work and how automation, digitalization, and the disruption created by technological advances will impact jobs and the region’s workforce. As a workforce intermediary, Valley Vision is partnering with educators and employers to assess current and anticipated future skills gaps and to deliver on an action plan to build a robust pipeline of qualified workers across multiple career education sectors including Information Communications Technologies (ICT); Advanced Manufacturing; Energy, Construction and Utilities; Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Water Technologies; and Health and Life Sciences.

Prescient for the Future of Work, it’s important to note that today ICT and Digital Media are integrated into almost every technology, industry and job. As noted in the Brookings report, close to three-quarters of occupations in the region now require high or medium levels of digital skills. Whereas 49-percent of middle skill jobs required medium or high levels of digital literacy 15-years ago, 87-percent of today’s jobs require these skills.

As we pursue the goal of getting the remaining 50-percent of the world’s population online, there is a great need for collaboration and urgent action to shape a digital future that is beneficial for all. Valley Vision looks forward to the continuing the advancement of this work and in securing an equitable digital future.

Tammy Cronin is a Valley Vision Project Leader working on the 21st Century Workforce and Broadband Access and Adoption.

Preparing Today’s Students for Tomorrow’s Workforce

Valley Vision CEO Bill Mueller gave the following remarks at the Hands On the Future 2018 Counselor’s Conference on December 4th in Sacramento. The summit was designed to help hundreds of high school and college counselors in preparing today’s students for tomorrow’s workforce.

“Thank you all for being here.  You are the critical bridge in our economy, connecting students to their future.  We are grateful for the job that you do, and respect the daily responsibility you carry.  We are here to help and support you today.

As Cristina Mendonsa mentioned, I am the CEO of a nonprofit group called Valley Vision with offices here in Sacramento and in Stockton.  We were created 25 years ago to help mayors and business CEOs, hospital executives and foundation leaders come together around a common table to address complicated issues like creating more affordable housing, improving healthcare access, or unraveling how to fill the jobs of the future that no single group could tackle alone.  Our 33-member board includes the chancellors and presidents of all the major public and private universities, the top businesses and foundations CEOs, and many community and nonprofit leaders.  Our job is to help our communities have the important conversations to be future ready.  So Valley Vision is more than a name, it’s also what we do.

How do you plan for a future in an age of massive disruption? A time when technology is transforming old industries and remaking whole new job categories that didn’t exist even 5 years ago?  What about the impact of artificial Intelligence, machine learning, genetic engineering, and the Internet of Things — how are these forces changing the nature of what work will be in the future?  Which jobs will be replaced by machines, or end all together?  Just how important is digital literacy to future success?  (Hint: it’s very important, and we are lagging here).

Thinking more globally, the United Nation forecasts we will add another billion people to the planet by 2030 — that’s just 11 years away.  Many of them will be born in India, China, and about half in Africa, UN data indicates, where medicine is getting better and birth rates are high, but food and water are scarce.  As the climate changes, who will create the cures and breakthroughs that address our next global challenges?

As an independent organization that works closely with our region’s top universities, all the work force boards, government, business and community groups, Valley Vision starts to answer these questions by curating some of the best research from industry and government sources.  We look deeply at reports from the Economist Intelligence Unit, McKinsey & Company, Brookings Institute and others.  We read the latest findings and talk with the researchers themselves.  We also create our own research, partnering with universities, national think tanks, and private enterprise.

That’s why I was asked to join you this morning. To tell you that we have studied the local economy and talked to area employers and have a good handle on what’s coming in the next 5 years.

So what IS coming next, you might ask…

I hope you might have a pen and some paper so you can take a few notes.  I’m going to tell you what we have learned so far about the jobs of the future here.  You’re going to hear more about this later this morning from experts from the field.  I’m also going to tell you what employers and experts are telling us they need most from graduates. So here goes.

In 2015-16, Valley Vision worked with Theresa Milan and the Los Rios Center for Excellence and conducted quantitative and qualitative research to better understand six high growth industry clusters for which we have a competitive advantage.  We held six forums to gain market intelligence directly from hiring managers and conducted individual interviews.

In 2017-18, Valley Vision, along with our workforce board and Strong Workforce partners, held several industry forums and regional advisory meetings to gain an even deeper understanding of in-demand skills and occupations.  We held four Future of Work forums and also mapped more than 115 industry advisory committees with more than 2,200 members.

This is what we learned:

Manufacturing is not in decline, but is growing both nationally and locally.  It is undergoing a renaissance due to technology and the advantages of local suppliers and the need for quality control.  We have added over a million manufacturing jobs nationally since the recession, and are adding thousands of high paying jobs at places like Siemens Mobility that don’t need a four or even a two-year degree, but a high school diploma, certificates and on-the-job training. Dean Peckham is here from the Sacramento Valley Manufacturing Initiative, and can tell you more.

Construction will need over 36,250 jobs through 2021 to rebuild our communities and homes and to incorporate energy efficiency and green materials.

Information and Communications Technology will need over 22,000 new hires at companies like Teledyne Microwave Solutions in Rancho Cordova and Intel in Folsom, through 2021.

Food and Agriculture here employs over 31,200 people with over 1,800 employers.  Notably, 55% of those jobs are “off farm” in production, distribution and processing.  This sector will have over 5,000 job openings over the next few years.

Another of our studies found that job growth is anticipated to continue at a 2.4% growth rate in life sciences as healthcare.  Registered nurses posted the largest job counts amongst the top 15 occupations with nearly 18,000 job openings expected over the next 5 years.  Social assistance and ambulatory care are driving a lot of the job growth. This is just an example of what we have learned so far.

This region also hired the Brookings Institute to come in and do a “stress test” on our region’s economy.  We are wealthy and productive when compared to the other top 100 metros in the US.  But we are falling behind in digital training and literacy.  We need to increase and align our efforts, especially for Blacks and Latinos that will make up a growing share of our workforce in the next 10 years.

You will hear more about these job trends from experts after my talk and ways you can put them to work for you and your students.  The big takeaway here is that the Sacramento Region population is growing faster than any other region in California and we are experiencing a job boom.

Jobs are here – we just need to do a better job of connecting you to them and the skills to get hired.  A lot of terrific job reports can be found on our website.  Look for this image on the home page and click to the underlying information.  We are here to help you.

I want to leave you with five truths we have uncovered from local employers and from leading research.  These truths will help you prepare students for jobs in the future.

First, focus on skills, not titles.  Job titles are in flux.  They don’t predict what an employee will be doing.  Focus instead on building a solid base of skills and fluency applicable to many occupations.  Generalist eager to learn are more hire-able than specialists in most cases.

The second truth is that job ladders are gone.  We are now in an age of job lattice — moving up, across and sideways over the course of our careers.  Skills remain, but as industries merge and re-form and job requirements shift, progress won’t be linear any more.

The third truth we are hearing is that workplace skills are sometimes equal to or more important than technical proficiency.  Adaptability, collaboration, problem solving, empathy, social awareness — these cannot be replaced by machines.  And these New World of Work skills can both be a student’s biggest advantage and biggest deterrent to upward mobility and success.  We need to teach them.

The fourth truth is that we must end the fiction that your education is over once you graduate.  Today global competition and technology change require us all to be lifelong learners.  Curiosity is key in the new world of work.

Last but perhaps most importantly, the fifth truth is that the evolving world of work requires us all must to be entrepreneurs.  A entrepreneurial mindset is more and more vital in the creative destruction underway in our economy.  It’s equally necessary for those filling job openings as those creating their own, Do-it-yourself future, building the next business enterprise.  This is the gig economy imperative.

As the world confronts huge environmental and social changes, California is an ideal place to build a career for students wanting to create the answers to some of societies most vexing challenges.  Not just cures and the latest technology breakthrough, but how will we feed the next billion?  How can we make our communities more resilient to fire?  Make water go farther for more people and grow more crops for a better life.  The answers will come from your students.  We have the jobs for them, and the opportunity is here to make the world a better place.

Thank you.”

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Bill Mueller is Valley Vision’s Chief Executive.