The 2016 Presidential race put a spotlight on bringing jobs back to the US, particularly in manufacturing. While the focus during the campaigns was on losing the jobs to lower-wage economies abroad, there is another reality: we lost interest in the greatest American middle-class industry sector somewhere along the way. Contrary to another belief, technology hasn’t taken these jobs either – it’s only changed them. The physical muscle required for manufacturing jobs 20 years ago has been replaced with the need for intellectual muscle and technical expertise, and here in the Valley we’re building our own world-class workforce.
The San Joaquin Valley Manufacturing Alliance’s 2017 Manufacturing Summit in April was attended by nearly 800 people – over 200 of them students, 60 exhibitors, and two notable keynote speakers affecting manufacturing and policy on a national level. SJVMA and the annual Summit are bringing together this industry sector in unprecedented ways. The aim: to develop pathways for a future workforce.
The energy surrounding the rebirth of manufacturing is electric, and exciting for the economic development of Fresno and the whole Valley. Through tools like the E3 Network, which matches students up with employers to participate in job shadowing and internships, we are engaging our children earlier to think about careers and explore the many onramps to success. Robust new Career Technical Education programs are being launched throughout the region, enabling students to fast track into the workforce through project-based learning and dual-enrollment in courses through our high schools and community colleges simultaneously.
The development of these invaluable programs is based in our ability to come together as a community and focus efforts on one goal – building a world-class workforce development ecosystem. Fresno Unified is working closely with the State Center Community College District to ensure these programs are meeting employer demands, and move seamlessly into post-secondary curriculum. With incredible alignment of focus, the synergy being created is resulting in remarkable programs and unlimited options for our kids to build a bright future – for themselves, and in turn, enriching our community.
The Fresno Business Council, SJVMA and Betts Company are proud to be involved with all of our community partners in creating bright futures for our next-generation workforce and our local manufacturers.