How CSU and business can shape the new workforce

(Editor's note: This is adapted from a column by Dr. William Silver, dean of the Sonoma State University Schoool of Business and Economics. The column will appear as part of a special section on the Feb. 19 SSU Economic Outlook Conference from 7:30--11:30 a.m. at Sonoma State University. Register at

As the dean of the School of Business and Economics, I sit at the nexus of a "talent juxtaposition." On one side I hear from North Bay business leaders who consistently share their frustration with finding the employees they need to fulfill key positions in their organizations. On the other side, I work on a campus where we have over 9,000 students each day coming to classes to learn the skills they need to be strong contributors to our workforce and our community. And we also have over 60,000 alums in our network, many of whom would enjoy working in the North Bay -- and many of whom are already doing so.

Given this pool of bright, motivated, and capable people, is there really a talent shortage? Is the workforce we need to be successful in 2020 already here?

From my perspective, the answer to both questions paradoxically is "yes." The talent gap is real, but SSU can help to close it very quickly by building educational programs which provide relevant skills for the workforce needs of the present and future, by directly collaborating with employers to help them access the talent they need, and by delivering educational experiences that will ensure that our students are "ready." Relevant programs

The keynote speaker for our conference, Chancellor Timothy White of the California State University system, will address how the world's largest public university system is undertaking the mission of developing a relevant workforce on a state-wide level. The CSU is the largest source of California's skilled diverse workforce, providing thousands of graduates in hundreds of fields each year. This powerful resource has and will continue to provide the foundation for the success of California's businesses in a global economy.

Closer to home, here at Sonoma State University we are constantly evolving our programs to serve the needs of the North Bay region we serve. This spring we are offering several new skill-based certificate programs based on specific gaps identified by our business partners. 

The Professional Social Media Certificate provides participants with training and experience developing a social media campaign in their industry. 

The Professionals Sales Certificate offers participants a hands-on experience in applying critical communication tools and sales strategies to various aspects of the sales process including prospecting, stakeholder meetings, and formal presentations of products/services, to create valuable and viable solutions for organizations. 

And the Hospitality and Tourism Certificate Program will support the burgeoning talent demand in this fast growing industry sector by preparing participants with the planning, marketing and fundamental operation skills needed in hospitality and tourism businesses.Accessing SSU's student and alumni talent

Beyond classes, we have a full service Career Center ( which not only enhances the employability of our students, but also can work directly with you to match your hiring needs with the talents of SSU students and alumni. 

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