Welcome to SSU Economic Outlook 2014

Greetings! As the North Bay rides a new wave of slow economic progress, we find that an old issue continues to challenge our businesses: Where will we find the talent to fuel our growth? 

Sonoma State's School of Business and Economics is pleased to partner with the North Bay Business Journal to present this year's Economic Outlook Conference -- Workforce 20/20 -- a look ahead into the future of talent in the North Bay. The conference, which covered many of the topics in this special section, was held Feb. 19 at Sonoma State University.

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, addressed 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 (sonoma.edu/sbe/careers-and-internships) 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. Our annual Career and Internship Expo is a prime venue for employers and internship sponsors to meet graduating seniors, recruit qualified juniors and seniors to fill internships, and get an early look at freshmen and sophomores as they begin their journey towards a career search.

Our Mentor Program provides an opportunity for business leaders to impart real-world experiences to those embarking on careers for the first time, and to acquaint themselves with potential future employees. We also provide job posting and customized recruiting solutions to access our student and alumni networks. Our internship program is a low-risk opportunity to experience a potential career hiring while they perform a special project or company specific job assignments. The solution to many of your workforce requirements may already be in the area, on the Sonoma State campus. Reach out to us to learn how we can help with your hiring needs.Launching entrepreneurial careers and businesses

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