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Education & Industry Growth – Victor Valley, CA Meets Workforce Demands

Learn how the region's colleges and universities work with business leaders to quickly close workforce gaps.

By Teree Caruthers on June 1, 2016

Natan Vigna

One key to the Victor Valley’s economic vitality is the foresight of the region’s education community and its ability to quickly respond to changing workforce needs to keep the pipeline of talent flowing for industries.

Victor Valley College in Victorville, for example, built the 30,000-square-foot Dr. Prem Reddy Health and Sciences Building in response to the region’s growing health-care sector. The building, which was funded in part with a $2 million donation by the building’s namesake, Prime Healthcare Services CEO Dr. Prem Reddy, features a computerized testing center, additional science labs to better meet the demands of the school’s expanding enrollment and a state-of-the-art simulation lab.

“The simulation lab allows student nurses to develop better critical thinking skills that are vital to the lifesaving work they will do in our local hospitals,” says Robert Sewell, director of marketing and public information officer for Victor Valley College. “The more practice they have making decisions under pressure, the more ready they will be for the emergencies they will face on the job.”

Sewell says the college regularly monitors employment trends and develops relationships within the business community through industry advisory councils, which help shape curriculum and also provide regional career opportunities for graduates.

“Last year we developed a new partnership with the Auto Park at Valley Center that allowed our automotive technology students to refine their skills with practice in an active workplace,” Sewell says. “The program worked so well that in the first semester of the partnership several students were hired during their internship.”

Smart Starts

Victor Valley College and Barstow Community College offer associate degrees and certificates in several high-demand fields, including computer information systems, construction and logistics, as well as programs in fields such as political and social science, art history and childhood development that transfer into state college and university systems.

The college is also a partner in the Victor Valley Community College District Consortium’s RAMP UP project to increase the number of highly skilled workers in health care, energy and utilities, manufacturing, and transportation by streamlining career and technical training. The project consists of a consortium of local colleges that work with businesses to encourage real-world learning experiences and with regional school districts to introduce high school students to these fields.

The Alliance for Education in San Bernardino County is another example of collaboration between educators and businesses. Established by San Bernardino County Schools, the alliance focuses on incorporating STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education into the classroom to help prepare students for college and a competitive career.

“STEM disciplines teach students technical and problem-solving skills essential for workers in a knowledge- and technology-driven economy,” says San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools Ted Alejandre.

“A technically skilled pool of local graduates reduces the need for employers to recruit workers from outside the county and attracts new high-tech jobs to the region,” Alejandre continues. “By engaging local business, industry, government and community in the process, we can plan curriculum and priorities based on workforce demands and emerging industry needs.”

Higher Ed Close to Home 

The need to fill the growing number of professional and technical jobs has led several private colleges and universities to establish campuses and learning centers in the region. San Joaquin Valley College, a private, family-owned and operated junior college with 13 campuses across the state, offers a number of associate and certificate programs in health care as well as technical and industrial vocations at its Hesperia campus. Students can train to become medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, or HVAC and industrial maintenance technicians in a little over a year.

Azusa Pacific University’s High Desert Regional Center in Victorville offers more than a dozen bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education specialties. Brandman University’s Victorville campus offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology, sociology, criminal justice, business and professional studies, early childhood education and special education, and the University of La Verne’s High Desert campus gives residents access to undergraduate and graduate programs in business and education.

These regional centers give residents – in particular, working adults – the ability to earn four-year professional degrees without leaving the area.

“We are the kind of university that recognizes the working adult, the parents or the family member of the person who is working and has multiple obligations,” says Dr. Jeff Ehrlich, interim president of Park University, which partners with Victor Valley College to offer students a flexible pathway to a four-year degree. “In order to increase the workforce, we have to offer flexible classes. Students can take classes online as easily as face-to-face. That’s one way that we help in workforce development. Another is to offer degrees that are people are looking for that are in demand.”

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