Extolling the virtues of training for advanced manufacturing: 'Giving people the skills they need'


San Diego Workforce Partnership conference: "Our challenge is: Can we adapt?"

Extension Dean Mary Walshok was a featured speaker at a San Diego Workforce Partnership conference held Oct. 2  at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park.

The day-long conference was devoted to “Future Employment in Our Priority Sector,” covering in-depth workforce data on San Diego’s five largest employment sectors: life sciences, health care, clean energy, information & communications technologies, and advanced manufacturing. The event was co-presented by the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community Colleges Association.

Dean Walshok gave the presentation on advanced manufacturing and later joined a panel to discuss the sector’s role in local employment and hiring.

Based on a report prepared by Extension’s Center for Research on the Regional Economy (directed by Josh Shapiro) on behalf of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, the value of advanced manufacturing to the San Diego regional economy is substantial:

  • 10 percent of all companies;

  • 15 percent of all paid employment;

  • 22 percent of annual regional payroll; and

  • 23 percent of our gross regional product

According to the research, this past year, there were close to 170,000 people working in manufacturing in the region. More than 80 percent of these companies employ less than 20 people, small shops filled with highly-trained technicians.

Some highlights of Dean Walshok’s presentation:

  • “Here in San Diego, we make drones, golf equipment, surfboards, guitars, and beer – and of course, biotech advances, aerospace components, industrial machinery, computer equipment, medical devices, information technologies, and electronics of all sorts. … Clearly, we’re not talking about your grandfather’s manufacturing.”

  • “We discovered a large gap between available jobs and the training required to perform those jobs. Universities aren’t doing enough. Community colleges aren’t doing enough. Workforce partnerships need to re-think things differently. But we can close that gap and make it work."

  • “Our educational institutions have the ability to adapt, to change, to have the partnership and institutional mechanisms so that we can quickly help more people re-focus, re-tool and re-skill as part of a life-long learning model. There’s plenty of evidence that San Diego has done this better than a lot of cities in adapting to these sorts of changes. Our challenge is: Can we continue to adapt?”

Earlier that day, Dean Walshok made on-air interview appearances on KPBS-FM and TV, joined by Kelly Cunningham, regional economist and senior fellow at National University's System Institute for Policy Research.


Walshok’s on-air remarks included:

  • “What the guys in the white coats – the college grads – do is quite different than the actual fabricating, assembly and distribution of the products that come out of that innovation. That’s what San Diego is getting better at – but in a very different way than in the past.”

  • “We’ve got some real gaps in terms of our workforce partnerships, our community colleges and our universities as well. Giving people the skills they need to put their education to work in the sectors where that need it.”

  • “Everybody wants a well-educated worker. You’ve got to be able to do math, read manuals, work in teams. That being said, you’ve then got to work in very specific technical or manufacturing production environment."

  • “Most kids have never even seen those places, much less visited them, or done a project at a worksite so that an employer can say, ‘Gee, you’ve got a great AA degree and you’ve also had all this experience? I can put you to work tomorrow.’ ”


Posted: 10/3/2014 12:00:00 AM by | with 0 comments

Blog post currently doesn't have any comments.

What's your story?

Share your accomplishments, advice, and goals for a chance to be featured.