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Three Major Job Changing Opportunity Trends Impacting California Central Valley’s Workforce

Three Major Job Changing Opportunity Trends Impacting California Central Valley’s Workforce

Note: These 3 opportunity trends include doubling of population, technology adoption and global market demand for agricultural products. Written by Mike Ammann, San Joaquin Partnership for Keeping Grads in the Valley Panel Breakout Session 2013 San Joaquin Valley Fall Policy Conference held in Stockton, CA 10/10/2013.

A growing population, technology adoption and demand from global markets for food and beverages will change job opportunities and pay scales for graduates in the California Central Valley in the near future.

However new employers and graduates will have to fight through the continued bad image that the media portrays of the life in the California Central Valley or the as the Economist tagged us in 2010 article entitled The Appalachia of the West – California’s agricultural heartland threatens to become a wasteland. Well that may sell magazine but it doesn’t characterize the rapidly changing and more diverse economy of the California Central Valley.

I have always looked at myself as a community change agent empowered through implementation of a cooperative countywide economic development program. This program successful partners with competitors and allies regionally, statewide and internationally to bring new investment and job opportunities to Central Valley communities.

My view is the same as philosopher Alan Watts who said

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it and join the dance.”

I don’t think the Economist or other media have plunged into or understand the major changes are taking place which I will cover and will have a direct impact on the willingness of graduates to stay as well as attract talented individuals into the Central Valley.

Let’s start with the doubling of population. Valley population growth comes from natural births over death along with migration from the higher cost coastal communities. This eastward movement of families has been going on for decades at both ends of the Central Valley. California’s population is becoming a barbell with more younger and older residents than middle or work aged. 30 and 40 year olds ready to start a family followed shortly by retiring grandparents will continue to move eastward out of the Bay Area into San Joaquin/Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Merced and northward out of the LA basin over the grapevine into Kern County.

Younger twenty something’s will continue to party on in fashionable LA as well as in Surf City USA while digital engineers and venture capitalist will push innovation in mobile social media development and the next great thing” Bay Area and Silicon Valley.

The Central Valley has doubled from 1980 to 2010 to 4 million and will double again by 2035. The Central Valley is really a state within a state” with its 4 million populations larger in size of the combined states of Vermont, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska (3,386,369).

Four Central Valley Cities are in Top 20 cities in California with Fresno ranked 5th with 508,453; Bakersfield 9th with 359,221; Stockton (13th with 296,344) and Modesto (18th with 205,987)  So now think of 2 million in each of these 3 nodes in another 30 years.  Higher speed rail will be essential to be able to move around Central Valley with 8 million people living, working and tourist coming to play.

Now let’s take a look at the impact of technology that continues to change the Central Valley.

Let’s take a look back beginning in Kern County and Bakersfield where I was a part of was the location of State Farms Regional office in the early 1990’s next to CSU Bakersfield and a under construction hospital. State Farm purchases 60 acres, 400,000 sq. ft. and 1000 jobs on the Westside of town which is now the New Bakersfield.” This was a major opportunity for new career ladders for graduates in addition to agriculture and oil. State Farm moved from the high cost coastal location in Los Angeles to Bakersfield. Since then other State Farm offices have been consolidated into Bakersfield’s regional service center.

Kern County is the epicenter for diversification of the Central Valley’s economy. Here are a few examples. The privatization and growth of space with Spaceport Mojave, renewable energy with wind turbines in  and fracking of oil and gas deposits along the Central Valley and California Central Coast. These rapidly expanding industries based on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) will require a highly educated, innovative, talented and motivated labor force.

Fresno and surrounding counties continues to grow as California’s center of agriculture innovation by adapting water and energy technology at FSU WET Center while UC Davis drones are flying up and down the valley analyzing soil conditions and testing crop dusting, while other farms are testing new crop picking equipment and processing robots to reduce the need for field and shed labor.

Meanwhile besides San Joaquin County’s Grow It, Make it, and Shipping It we are branding ourselves as the Greater Silicon Valley.”  Why? With over 60,000 daily commuters and more and more business connections

Here’s the latest example.  Amazon two E-Fulfillment centers constructed in Patterson and Tracy in the last 8 months are launching a state of the art same day delivery” service into the Bay area.  This service will offer everything from books to broccoli from Amazon Fresh over the coming holidays. The City of Tracy has dedicated 1700 acres for further development of a full range of businesses and industries tied to Silicon Valley and the Bay Area which has little available land on which to expand.

Finally globalization has come full circle. The international demand for California agricultural products has dramatically increased as Asian wages have created a middle income customer that wants quality California food and beverage. Ask a farmer and you will hear that the market for nuts has gone nuts.” Another example is that the Port of Stockton has exported more than it has imported and this year is the ports second best year in its 80 year history.

Hopeful this has given you a different picture of what the Central Valley is today and what it will become tomorrow allowing for more opportunities for students graduating into the workforce and attracting talent that will continue to grow and diversity the Central Valley’s economy.

Thank you!