Schools, colleges and government partner to strengthen the region's talent base
A ready and highly skilled workforce is the cornerstone of Victor Valley’s economic development efforts. A roster of public and private college and universities work in tandem with local school systems and workforce development agencies to ensure a steady flow of talent to the region’s growing industries.
One-Stop Job Shop
Leading the charge is the San Bernardino County Workforce Development Board (SBCWDB). The organization provides individuals with job training and placement and works with public schools and community colleges to develop skills-building programs.
The Workforce Development Board maintains relationships with community colleges throughout the county, including Victor Valley College and Barstow College.
“We discuss with them what we’re hearing from businesses in terms of the skills they need,” says Curtis Compton, business services interim manager for the SBCWDB. “We want to be sure that our local community colleges have that input and are able to better meet the needs of local employers. And when students strengthen their skills, they are able to achieve a higher quality of life by getting better-paying jobs.”
The SBCWDB also operates the America’s Job Center of California in Victorville. The center is a one-stop shop for workforce services, providing a comprehensive range of free recruitment and training services for both employers and job seekers.
“There are 27 partnerships that operate through the America’s Job Center, including local school districts, community colleges, and the California Employment Development Department,” Compton says. “Those partnerships allow us to better serve the entire region.”
Compton says the SBCWDB is also piloting a program to pair local businesses with public high schools. The businesses will serve as work-based learning sites where high school students can get hands-on training while still in school and experience what it’s like to be in the workplace in their chosen occupation.
In addition to a strong focus on four-year college readiness, the region’s school districts work to introduce students to local career pathways. The Victor Valley Union High School District, for example, offers extensive career technical education programs in a variety of fields, including computer networking and support services, medical services, construction, video game design, culinary and hospitality, and child development.
The district, says Superintendent Ron Williams, maintains strong relationships with all institutions of higher learning in the region, particularly Victor Valley College and Cal State San Bernardino. An annual district-wide college and career fair gives students exposure to the options available and allows employers and colleges to interact with them.
Victor Valley’s colleges and universities play a significant role in workforce development by offering dozens of certificate and degree programs between them. Private colleges and universities, including Park University, Azusa Pacific University, Brandman University and University of La Verne, have established regional centers to allow students to transfer credits or work toward a four-year degree.
Barstow Community College offers more than 200 associate degrees in the arts and sciences, and San Joaquin Valley College in Hesperia and Victor Valley College both offer programs in high-demand fields, such as health care, science and technology.
Victor Valley’s 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Dr. Prem Reddy Health and Sciences Building features a computerized testing center, science labs and a simulation lab that allows student nurses to develop better critical thinking skills.
“Our career technical programs teach fundamental skills that employers in almost every corner of the region need and offer more than 100 certification programs to ensure our graduates are marketable employees,” says Robert Sewell, director of marketing and public relations for Victor Valley College. “We monitor employment trends and maintain employer relationships through a robust set of industry advisory councils to shape our curriculum around regional career opportunities for our graduates.”