EDC’s inclusive growth strategy is fueled by three key economic ingredients: skilled workers, quality jobs (particularly in small companies) and thriving households. Launched in 2019 with funding from JP Morgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is helping the region meet its inclusive growth goals by addressing skilled talent shortages and expanding access to quality job opportunities. Advancing San Diego partners, in lockstep with industry and education partners, recognize that each group has a role to play in developing and strengthening our local talent pool.
The challenge & the opportunity
Employers cite access to diverse, qualified talent as a top challenge within their business, relying on high-cost recruitment strategies to fill job openings. Meanwhile, San Diego is a diverse community with an education system that serves hundreds of thousands of San Diegans (10 community colleges, 5 universities, numerous non-traditional training programs). Black and Hispanic San Diegans make up more than half of our population, but are glaringly underrepresented in high-demand jobs.
Advancing San Diego introduces a collaborative, region-wide strategy to prepare San Diegans for high-demand jobs via our locally-serving education intuitions. While labor market data is improving, there is not a consistent approach for adapting education to meet industry expectations. With clear and consistent communication about skills, we collectively create an environment where San Diegans are trained for, and can access quality job opportunities, and employers can look to our local talent pool for their hiring needs.
Talent development amid a global pandemic
We felt the initial impacts of the pandemic across our entire economy. Unemployment in San Diego rose from 4.2% to 15% in a matter of months, with some industries experiencing a 50% decline in their workforce. Of the jobs impacted the most, many were already at risk of decline due to factors including automation and digitization. Further, the highest-risk jobs are disproportionately held by Black and Hispanic San Diegans.
Other industries, particularity innovation industries, took less of a hit as business held steady and employees had the option to work remotely. Jobs most insulated from the impacts of the pandemic are disproportionately held by white and Asian San Diegans.
Pre- and post-COVID-19, software developers continue to rank among the highest demand occupations in San Diego. In May, software developers were the second most advertised job in San Diego, with 3,000 postings. With numerous training options beyond a 4-year degree, software engineers can be trained relatively quickly at a much lower cost to the individual, and both training and jobs can be done from essentially anywhere with an internet connection. As such, Advancing San Diego started its work by informing education providers on skills requirements for software engineers, and is actively working with employers do the same for engineering and business professionals.
The Advancing San Diego approach
Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven, outcomes based strategy for strengthening lines of communication between industry and education, and expanding access to talent for small companies.
- COMMUNICATION: employer working groups communicate hiring requirements for entry-level jobs, offer feedback to education providers on how to update & improve curriculum, and recognize “Preferred Providers” as delivering top-quality training for quality jobs. It’s through this process that employers also gain a better understanding of which local institutions they should be recruiting from.
YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 30+ employers have actively engaged in working groups to communicate skills criteria, offer feedback on curricula, and grow the network of Preferred Provider programs. Following their participation in the working group, many employers express interest in hiring from a community college, university, or non-traditional training program where they had not previously recruited from.
>> Skills Reports for Software Talent & Engineering Talent
- ADAPTATION: with better communication from industry, education programs can more effectively train talent that employers want to hire. Education programs are also recognized by employers for their ability to reach and serve a diverse student body.
YEAR 1 PROGRESS: Employers have offered feedback to 21 education programs; 7 have been selected as Preferred Providers of software talent, and Preferred Providers of engineering talent will be announced in coming weeks. Multiple programs who were not selected are actively adapting programs for reconsideration as a Preferred Providers, which are evaluated annually.
>> More information on Preferred Providers
- ACCESS: Small companies (<100 employees) often do not have the time or resources to effectively recruit top talent. At no cost to them, small companies can host paid interns from Preferred Provider programs as part of Advancing San Diego. These companies receive training for building successful remote teams, access to a software platform for managing remote interns, and interns are eligible for $500 in products or services that support their internship success. The internship program prioritizes students who are first generation college students, community college students, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities.
YEAR 1 PROGRESS: 22 small companies from a variety of industries are hosting ASD interns remotely this summer. A second cohort of companies is currently being recruited to meet interest in this program from students, many of whom are experiencing heightened anxiety due to job-market uncertainty.
>> The average size of companies in this cohort is 12 employees, and 54% of host companies identify as either minority, woman, disabled, veteran, or immigrant-owned.
>> ASD has placed +40 software engineering interns from community college, university, and non-traditional education backgrounds. 100% of interns are either first-gen college students, community college students, veterans, or residents of San Diego’s low income communities.
Advancing San Diego was designed as a cyclical process that is responsive to the ever-changing needs of the economy. Our priority remains to better prepare the local talent pool for the jobs our economy needs, and provide better access to talent for small companies. Even once shelter-in-place guidelines are lifted, we will continue to offer paid remote work experiences as one way to remove geographic and scheduling barriers for students and companies.
However, we realize that not all jobs can be done remotely. While we will continue to focus on high-demand job areas such as software, we will lean into jobs that are economically resilient, good-paying jobs that are accessible via shorter-term training and have cross-cutting industry need. We believe this approach will increase our ability to support those most impacted by the pandemic on a path to economic stability.
For more updates on Advancing San Diego, visit the program page.