Meet our Advancing San Diego Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent

Meet the Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent.

Fueled by Tech, Defense, and Life Science industries, San Diego’s innovation economy relies on a pipeline of diverse talent. However, local companies continue to cite access to quality talent as a persistent challenge–98 percent of firms in San Diego are small companies (<100 employees) that often lack time and resources to effectively compete for talent with their larger counterparts. Meanwhile, many San Diegans are disconnected from high-demand job opportunities in Healthcare, largely due to education requirements.

Made possible by JPMorgan Chase, Advancing San Diego is a demand-driven strategy to address talent shortages and remove barriers for small companies to access qualified workers. It is a collaborative effort between EDC, San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association, San Diego Workforce Partnership, City of San Diego, and United Way of San Diego.

Over the last six months, Advancing San Diego partners worked with a group of seven employers to develop a skills-based criteria for medical assistants. We asked that any education provider meeting that criteria apply for the Preferred Provider designation. An employer-led review panel then evaluated these applicants against the skills criteria to determine which programs should be designated as ‘Preferred Providers,’ recognized as those most effectively preparing individuals for jobs and internships as medical assistants.

EDC is excited to announce Preferred Providers of Healthcare Talent:

How small companies can get involved:

Advancing San Diego will cover the cost of internships for 30 students, sourced from the above Preferred Provider, at small clinics, doctor’s offices, and other medical facilities in the region. Selected interns will be paid and have access to additional funds to support their success in the workplace. All students from Preferred Provider programs will be invited to participate in industry engagement opportunities such as career fairs and networking events. Healthcare internships will begin in early 2022.

If you are a small medical office or healthcare provider interested in hosting Medical Assistant interns and meet this eligibility criteria, apply now by October 4, 2021!

How education programs can get involved:

Advancing San Diego will continue to designate Preferred Providers in a variety of high-demand fields. Preferred Provider criteria and applications are updated and reviewed on an annual basis. The Preferred Provider application schedule is as follows:

  • SOFTWARE: Revisited Spring 2021
  • ENGINEERING: Closed Summer 2020
  • BUSINESS: Closed Winter 2020
  • MANUFACTURING: Closed Spring 2021
  • HEALTHCARE: Closed Summer 2021 (announcement above)
  • LIFE SCIENCES: Upcoming Winter 2021

For more information, visit AdvancingSD.org.

EDC appoints Lisette Islas as Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth

New role to align EDC programmatic and governance decisions; ensure progress toward 2030 regional goals

Today, San Diego Regional EDC announces the appointment of its new Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth, Lisette Islas. As San Diego begins to recover from a global pandemic that has disproportionately impacted small businesses and people of color, the region must double down on its inclusive growth goals by creating skilled talent, economically-stabilizing jobs and thriving households.

“Unanimously approved by the board of directors, EDC is proud to welcome Lisette as our first-ever Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth. With a career grounded in inclusion and community, she is the perfect person for the job—prioritizing programs that ensure an economic recovery that affords all San Diegans opportunities,” said Julian Parra, Region Executive at Bank of America and EDC Board Chair.

A board member of EDC since May 2018, Islas is the EVP and Chief Impact Officer at MAAC, a non-profit providing programs and advocacy in the areas of health, education, workforce development, and housing throughout San Diego County. With more than twenty years of experience working in community development and philanthropy at leading, local organizations including the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation and San Diego Grantmakers (now Catalyst), Islas is passionate about helping underserved communities be more prosperous and civically engaged. In her new role as Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth at EDC, Islas will ensure alignment between EDC programmatic and governance decisions, and track progress toward the Inclusive Growth goals reported annually at a community event.

“Everything we do as an economic development organization ties back to our Inclusive Growth priorities. Our time, resources, and programs are devoted to building a strong local talent pipeline; equipping small businesses to compete; and addressing the affordability crisis. I can think of no one better to guide us on this path than Lisette. We are honored to see her fill the role in this critical time,” said Mark Cafferty, President & CEO, San Diego Regional EDC.

INCLUSION AS A BUSINESS IMPERATIVE

Launched in 2018 and informed by a partnership with the Brookings Institution, EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative outlines the region’s economic priorities and makes the business case for economic inclusion—putting the onus not on the philanthropy or government but instead on the region’s major corporations, employers, and anchors.

The innovation economy has made San Diego more prosperous than many of its peers—leading the region out the COVID-spurred economic recession as it has in downturn’s past—but it is not accessible by the fastest-growing segment of the region’s population.

“Every crisis and recovery that the U.S. economy has endured has increased systemic poverty and widened inequalities in Black and Brown communities. As I take on this new role with EDC, I’m committed to working together with the region’s leading employers to get this recovery right. San Diego’s economic competitiveness depends on it,” said Lisette Islas, Vice Chair of Inclusive Growth, San Diego Regional EDC.

To fuel San Diego’s recovery and growth, it’s pertinent that a regional coalition of diverse stakeholders committed to programs that are demand-driven, employer-led, and outcomes-based commit to the following goals:

  1. Build a strong local talent pipeline: To meet the demands of San Diego’s future economy, the region must double the local production of skilled workers to 20,000 annual degree or credential completions by 2030. This means ensuring Black and Latino young people have the opportunity to achieve at the same rate as their white peers. talent.inclusiveSD.org
  2. Equip small businesses to compete: Small businesses make up the majority of firms and employment in San Diego. To ensure opportunity exists for a skilled workforce, the region must create 50,000 quality jobs* within small business by 2030. This means better connecting small businesses to big customers to drive resiliency. smallbiz.inclusiveSD.org
  3. Address the affordability crisis: Ensuring San Diego is an attractive and affordable place for talent and business is critical to maintaining its regional competitiveness. For the region to recover and thrive, 75,000 new thriving households** must be created by 2030. This means prioritizing access to and affordability of the essential infrastructure that working families rely upon—like housing, childcare, and broadband—so that 55 percent of households meet San Diego’s true cost of living. affordability.inclusiveSD.org

Islas is supported by five officers as part of EDC’s Governance Committee: Chair, Julian Parra, Region Executive, Bank of America; Vice Chair, Rob Douglas, President and COO, ResMed; Vice Chair, Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton; Treasurer, Phil Blair, President and CEO at Manpower San Diego; and Secretary, Tom Seidler, SVP Community and Military Affairs, San Diego Padres.

inclusiveSD.org

Hear more from Lisette here

A note from Mark…

Over the last several months, our work at EDC has had to move and change in some significant ways to respond to the economic conditions around us. And while this is always a part of our work and planning, it is safe to say that 2020—and the early stages of 2021—challenged us greatly and taught us a lot about our work and our economy, as it did all of you.

Investors and community partners often ask me what a day or a week at EDC looks like—some are just curious what the actual work feels like on a day-to-day basis; others are interested in knowing what we are seeing and experiencing through the businesses we work with to better understand if their needs and priorities may signal bigger or broader economic trends, challenges, or opportunities for the region.

As we kick off the third quarter of the year and begin developing new and improved programs, strategies, and focus areas to keep stride with our fast moving and re-opening economy, here’s a quick glance at EDC’s Q2 2021:

As always, we do all that we do with an eye on building a stronger, more inclusive economy, producing more skilled workers, creating more quality jobs within our small businesses, and establishing more thriving households and a better quality of life for businesses and residents in all corners of the San Diego region. We truly could not do any of it without you, and we thank you for your continued investment, leadership, and support.

With respect and gratitude,

Mark Cafferty

A note from Mark…

As I write this, it is hard for me to believe that we are over halfway through June and summer is just around the corner.

Despite the State of California “reopening” last week, I think I have accepted the fact that things will not truly be back to normal for a very long time; yet at the same time, we see signs all around us that the way of life we all knew before the pandemic is starting to resume. In the months ahead, Team EDC will begin returning to the office much more regularly. We are starting to attend more and more in-person meetings, although the outdoor variety remains the standard. We have even put a date on the calendar for our 2022 Annual Dinner—hopeful that the year ahead continues to bring us all closer to where we once were.

While numerous things have changed about our work at EDC, the goals that we set for 2030 remain unwavering. The need to develop more quality jobs within our small businesses, more skilled workers, and more thriving households across San Diego has only become more prominent. Now more than ever, these goals must be our guideposts in re-establishing San Diego’s economic resiliency, growth, and well-being.

Committed to getting this recovery right, we have recently teamed up with local tech startup GoSite to offer up to 100 small businesses with the digital tools needed to weather future economic shocks—at no cost to them.

We know the pandemic spurred the closure of nearly 40 percent of San Diego’s small businesses—which can largely be attributed to businesses’ inability to quickly pivot online, depriving them of access to customers and key markets. We also know those hardest hit by the pandemic have been communities of color who are being left further behind. The San Diego Business Hub is one step toward ensuring San Diego businesses most impacted* by COVID-19 have the tools necessary to recover, grow, and thrive.

We feel certain that if we can support 100 more small businesses in developing the online presence they need for resiliency and growth, it will support our broader effort of increasing the number of quality jobs and thriving households within the region. And everything we do in the months ahead must ensure we are continuously taking steps in this direction. Learn more about the program at SDbizhub.com, made possible by grants from The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank.

With respect and gratitude,

Mark Cafferty

*Priority applicants include women, minorities, veterans, and other economically under-resourced groups.

NEW: San Diego Business Hub takes small businesses online, boosts resilience

Public-private partnership offering subsidized digital tools for small, diverse businesses

Today, in partnership with local tech company GoSite, EDC launched the San Diego Business Hub, which in its first phase will offer up to 100 small, service-based businesses a full suite of digital tools at no cost. Made possible by grants from The San Diego Foundation and Union Bank, SDbizhub.com is accepting applications from businesses most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic—women, minorities, veterans and other economically under-resourced groups.

The pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of companies of all sizes and industries by as much as five years in a 12-month period, with many struggling to keep up. Since the start of 2020, the region has seen nearly 40 percent of its small businesses close. Many of these closures can be attributed to businesses’ inability to quickly pivot online, depriving them of access to customers and key markets.

We also know those hardest hit by the pandemic have been communities of color who are being left further behind in San Diego’s economic recovery.

The proof is in the numbers:

  • Despite making up just 30 percent of the local population, Hispanic and Latinx communities accounted for well over half of all regional COVID-19 cases and two in five related deaths.
  • Additionally, people of color are overrepresented in local industries that were hardest hit during the pandemic (e.g. Hispanics make up 39.8 percent of Hospitality staff and 41.8 percent of Retail staff). As a result, unemployment and loss of income have been concentrated within Black and Brown communities.

The cohort of 100 service-based businesses (e.g. personal care services, transportation, food service, home repair, small contractors, etc.) will receive GoSite’s web-based tools—which payment and invoicing, bookings, review management, customer communications, template websites and more—free of charge for one year.

Thoughts from local leaders:

“Small businesses employ the majority of San Diegans, and it’s essential we invest in their growth, recovery and resiliency if we are going to get this recovery right. This partnership with GoSite allows us to do just that: Provide the digital tools small businesses need to weather future economic downturns,” said Nikia Clarke, Vice President of Economic Development, EDC.

“This partnership is a prime example of how San Diego public, private and civic sectors rally together to solve hard problems. Access to these digital tools will help our region achieve a more equitable recovery and help small businesses struggling today be more resilient as San Diego gets back on track and back to work,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

“Small businesses face great challenges, made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. GoSite’s mission is to help small businesses adapt and succeed, with technology in hand for them to easily communicate with customers, manage online bookings, accept online payments, generate invoices and drive reviews—all in one place,” said Alex Goode, CEO of GoSite. “GoSite is proud to partner with EDC to create the SD Biz Hub and deliver innovative technology resources to San Diego, the place we call headquarters and home.”

“To build long-term economic resilience, San Diego’s small businesses must have resources to sustain their connections to customers and markets,”  shared Mark Stuart, President & CEO of The San Diego Foundation. “This is an inspiring example of government, philanthropy and nonprofit sectors coming together to help the small businesses in our neighborhoods survive, recover and grow.”

FAQ and applications are now live, and will remain open until the cohort is full.

SDbizhub.com

A note from our COO

Throughout the country, May is recognized as Small Business Month. More than ever before, we are all-in for celebrating the passion and resilience of San Diego’s small businesses, the backbone of our local economy. Over the last 14 months, the COVID-19 pandemic turned our economy upside down, impacting small businesses in ways we could never have imagined. And yet against all odds, many are surviving.

Those with less than 100 employees make up 98 percent of firms in the region, employing the majority of San Diegans—nearly twice the national average. They are the folks who design, build, and decorate our offices, the PR firms that amplify our brands and messages, the manufacturers who make parts and products—all who have spent years building their dreams.

Federal, state, and local officials have made a significant effort to help businesses stay afloat. Just last month California Governor Gavin Newsom signed legislation taking action toward a $6.2 billion tax cut for small businesses over the next six years. The state of California is on its sixth round of California Relief Grants, allocating $2.5 billion across the state. As of May 2, through two rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the federal government granted more than $780 billion in loans to small businesses across America.

There is work to do

While these resources are effective and important—and EDC has helped connect more than 1,400 businesses to such aid programs—there is more work to be done. According to a recent KBPS article referencing research from Reveal Reporting Networks, “Lenders [in San Diego County] gave 61 percent of loans to businesses in majority-white census tracts and just under 12 percent to businesses in majority-Latinx census tracts.” This disparity can be attributed to the lasting effects of segregation and discrimination—here’s what we mean.

Our commitment

EDC is committed to addressing the systemic inequities that exist in this region and across the country. EDC continues to work toward building a more resilient economy through programs like MetroConnect and the Export Specialty Center; eliminating barriers to opportunity through programs like Advancing San Diego and the Anchor Collaborative; and creating pathways to growth and greater customer access, especially for economically disadvantaged business owners, through San Diego Business Hub in partnership with GoSite.

EDC could not do this work without the ongoing support of our nearly 200 investors, organizations that have also faced a tumultuous year. Together we can ensure San Diego’s economic recovery reaches all who call this place home. We cannot thank you enough.

This month and beyond, shop small and procure local to support San Diego’s resilient recovery. Learn more about how we’ll get this recovery right.

To receive updates on each of EDC’s programs for small businesses, sign up to receive our emails.

Lauree Sahba
COO, San Diego Regional EDC

Employee ownership and why it might be a good fit for your business

On April 20, San Diego Regional EDC hosted the second in our Right Recovery Town Hall series underwritten by San Diego Gas & Electric. With a focus on employee ownership as a means of business resilience, EDC partnered with San Diego Workforce Partnership and invited experts and employee-owned companies to offer their perspectives.

Why employee ownership?

As San Diego recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn, EDC is hosting a series of events that highlight employer-driven, market-based strategies for creating a more resilient economy, deeply rooted in the region’s inclusive growth agenda.

Employee ownership is a business model that takes many forms and can support San Diego firms in getting this recovery right. The transition to employee ownership offers an effective and meaningful way for businesses to retain a dedicated workforce, take advantage of a significant tax benefit, and ensure wealth-building that will lead to more thriving households across the region.

Together with partners, we aim to raise awareness about this option for a wide range of businesses (from restaurants to major corporations, and everything in between). This is especially important as baby boomers own about half of all privately-held businesses in the United States; and as this population reaches retirement age, we will see a massive ownership changeover of locally-held businesses, whether through sale, M&A, IPO, family transition or worse, closure.

Employee ownership benefits all who are involved:

  1. Owners receive a competitive sale price and can exit the company knowing that their legacy and values will live on through their employees.
  1. Workers receive better compensation and benefits, and feel the success of the company directly contributes to their own financial success, which oftentimes results in more engaged and harder working employees.
  1. The business sees higher productivity, largely due to the new sense of responsibility held by the employees.
  1. The community sees wealth building, reinvestment, and a sense of dependability as businesses remain anchored to the area.

What we learned from a brewer, a staffing agency, and a music staple

At the virtual event on April 20, audience members heard from Mitch Miller, a Senior Consultant at The Beyster Institute who shared the Beyster story along with a data-driven case for employee ownership. A 2019 Rutgers study showed that Americans with part ownership in their company approaching retirement age had ten times more wealth than those who did not have part ownership. Additionally, a National Center for Employee Ownership 2017 study showed that companies with an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) were associated with 92 percent higher median household net wealth.

Sandie Taylor, director of people operations at Modern Times Beer, spoke on the employee perspective—describing increased employee engagement and a ‘we’re in this together’ culture as the company strategized ways to keep the lights on during the pandemic. An ESOP since July 2017, Modern Times’ management feels like they can speak more openly with their teams. Sandie shared, “this means a kind of trust and transparency” within our staff. Ultimately, the innovation and commitment of team members helped the company remain above water during the worst of the 2020 economic recession.

Seth Stein, CEO of Eastridge Workforce Solutions, explained how his company has developed digital tools to help employees watch their investment grow, so they can better understand and conceptualize the benefits of employee ownership in real-time. He shared that Eastridge’s voluntary turnover rate is down 57 percent, while involuntary turnover is down 40 percent—a striking decline he attributes to the employee ownership model. Seth also shared that the company’s Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization (EBITDA) was up seven percent in 2020, even amid an economic recession. “[Employee ownership] has been a game changer for our company, and I am really excited to see what happens next,” he said.

Our third employee-owned company is a household name that made history with this business model, becoming the first (reported) multi-national company to offer ownership to ALL employees, domestic and international. Taylor Guitars made waves when it transitioned to an ESOP in January 2021 after much deliberation to ensure that the move would maintain the familial culture that founders Bob Taylor and Kurt Listug had spent decades instilling. CFO Barbara Wight was honest with the audience about the legal and financial legwork that went into making this happen, largely accomplished due to the help of Chartwell Financial Advisors, who she highly recommends to large companies hoping to transition to an ESOP. She also shared that the significant tax benefits that come with employee ownership helped Taylor Guitars make the transition as lucrative as possible.

Finally, our audience heard from Project Equity and San Diego Workforce Partnership on resources available to San Diego companies. The two organizations are currently working together with Mission Driven Finance, Alliance Healthcare Foundation, and BFed to offer flexible capital for businesses transitioning to employee ownership. San Diego Workforce Partnership will be hosting a workshop on June 17 at 10 a.m. to help businesses identify specific needs and access these funds. You can register for that event here. Other resources for transitioning to employee ownership are listed below.

Resources and contacts for your business

Chartwell Financial Advisors
Greg Fresh, Managing Director, Head of Corporate Finance
Email: greg.fresh@chartwellfa.com
Phone: 612.230.3125

Project Equity
Alison Lingane, Co-founder
Email: alison@project-equity.org

Evan Edwards, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Business Engagement
Email: evan@project-equity.org

San Diego Workforce Partnership
Email: business@workforce.org
Phone: 619.28.2900 (press 4)

You can watch the full event here:

Black History Month: Elevating San Diego’s Black businesses and innovators

Black History Month is one of many opportunities to spotlight the Black founders, innovators, creators, and businesses throughout the San Diego region – and across the country at large.

This particular year feels especially critical, as we’ve watched current and historic racial inequality broadcast in our communities and across our TV screens, and as COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted communities of color here in San Diego.

For these reasons and more, we must do everything in our power to make sure we get this post-pandemic recovery right. We cannot do that without elevating Black and other marginalized voices.

Read ahead to learn more about Black-owned businesses and ongoing inclusion efforts across the San Diego region, published by EDC’s various brands and initiatives:

Through resources, programs, and regional partners, we are committed to helping Black-owned businesses grow and thrive in San Diego. If you are a Black entrepreneur or business owner in San Diego and we can help connect you to resources, programs, or other assistance, please contact us here.

Black lives matter. They matter in this country, they matter in San Diego, and they matter to us.

Study release: One percent shift in procurement could mean thousands of jobs for San Diegans

EDC study quantifies the impact of increased local procurement

Today, as part of a commitment to inclusive economic recovery, EDC released a study and set of recommendations for large employers to support small businesses by buying local. “Anchor Institutions: Leveraging Big Buyers for Small Business“ analyzes the spend of more than a dozen local anchors and demonstrates the impact of increased local procurement on quality job creation.

Anchor institutions are defined as universities, hospitals, local government agencies, the U.S. Navy and other large employers that are physically bound to the region.

In San Diego, anchors represent eight of the region’s 10 largest employers—providing more than 72,000 jobs. They purchase tens of billions of dollars in goods and services every year, and yet, local anchors send about one-quarter of all procurement spend outside the region.

The web-based study—procurelocal.inclusivesd.org—includes a summary of local spending, a cluster map of anchor institutions in the region, estimated economic impact from increased local spending, and a set of recommendations for growing quality jobs across San Diego through procurement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color and spurred the closure of one-in-three small businesses across San Diego. Local small businesses employ nearly 60 percent of the total workforce, which is double the national average, and are responsible for nearly half of all job growth in the last five years. Despite their critical importance to the region’s economy, many small businesses report struggling to attract customers and generate new sales.

“Small business resiliency will be key in getting this recovery right. This report further demonstrates the importance of connecting our region’s small and diverse businesses to large, institutional buyers,” said Eduardo Velasquez, EDC Research Director. “This will mean more quality jobs for San Diegans, more thriving businesses and a stronger regional economy.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • Collectively, 14 anchors surveyed spend more than $9.9 billion each year on a range of goods and services, and only about $247 million of this reported spend can be traced back to San Diego businesses. Further, only a small proportion of this spend is reaching small (14 percent) and minority-owned or diverse businesses (11 percent).
  • Small shifts in procurement can mean big economic impact:
    • If the 14 anchors surveyed increased local construction spending by just one percent, it would put around $32 million into local construction businesses, adding $466 million to the local economy and helping create nearly 4,500 jobs in the region.
    • The same one percent increase in professional services (e.g. legal assistance) spending would pump nearly $12 million into local suppliers, resulting in an economic impact of nearly $56 million and support another 800 jobs.
    • The majority of these new jobs would be in industries with a higher-than-average concentration of quality jobs (those that pay middle-income wages).

“As a large employer that works with many diverse suppliers to meet our mission of delivering clean, safe and reliable energy, SDG&E understands the value small businesses bring to the regional economy,” said Christy Ihrig, vice president of operations support, SDG&E, anchor event and study sponsor. “When they thrive, our region thrives. To support economic recovery from the pandemic, we are more committed than ever to grow our supplier diversity program and encourage other local employers to do the same.”

Beyond impacts to suppliers and the regional economy at large, anchor institutions that buy from local, small, diverse businesses also stand to benefit. Specifically, several local anchors note that setting goals for greater procurement from these suppliers has resulted in greater customer service, supply chain diversity and resiliency, and stronger brand equity in the communities they serve.

“‘Shop local’ is about more than individuals; it means big business and organizations choosing to support their neighbors by buying in their communities. The City of San Diego takes pride in its efforts to work with local companies, is seeking increased opportunities to buy local and implores other local organizations to follow suit. Together, this is how we ensure a more equitable and inclusive San Diego,” said Mayor Todd Gloria, City of San Diego, study sponsor.

A CALL TO ACTION

To maintain our regional competitiveness, we need to create 50,000 quality jobs in small businesses by 2030, as outlined in EDC’s inclusive growth strategy. To do that, it’s imperative we help San Diego’s small and diverse businesses recover and thrive.

San Diego needs its largest employers (and our largest buyers) to commit to redirecting their procurement to local, small, and diverse businesses. To do this we must:

  1. understand individual institutions’ existing efforts;
  1. identify spend areas with high potential for inclusive, local sourcing; and
  1. define and track metrics that ultimately drive bidding processes.

We invite large firms to join San Diego Regional EDC’s Anchor Collaborative and help us shape and achieve this goal—join us here.

The report was unveiled today at the first in a series of Town Hall events. Watch a recording of the event here. Thank you to the study sponsors: SDG&E, City of San Diego, Civic Community Ventures, and the University of San Diego School of Business.

procurelocal.inclusivesd.org

Learn more about EDC’s inclusive growth goals

Advancing San Diego: What we’ve done in one year

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.

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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.

What’s next?

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.