California's Workforce Isn't Ready For the Future

The San Francisco Business Times published an op-ed coauthored by California Competes Executive Director Lande Ajose (left) and Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman (right) on July 27, 2018.  

Now that the primary season is over, it’s critical to sharpen our focus on the issues the next governor will have to deal with. One is an immediate danger that is threatening California’s future economic health: a widening divide between workforce demands and the supply of skilled applicants who live in this state.

California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, struggles with a growing skills deficit across industries and regions. Projections from “California Competes: Higher Education for a Strong Economy” show the gap will only widen in years to come. By 2025, California is expected to be 2 million short of the degrees and credentials needed to fuel the workforce.

Worldwide, California is known as an economic engine. In the Bay Area, employers have created hundreds of thousands of new jobs while the unemployment rate is near historic lows. To meet the demand for highly-skilled workers, California employers frequently turn out-of-state and overseas. Between 2011 and 2016, California attracted 137,000 more adults with bachelor’s degrees from other states than it has sent to those states, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The largest gains are in majors like engineering, social sciences, computer science, and communications.

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