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By Tim Hunt

Projecting 20 years ahead in these days

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2020

Jeff Bellisario of the Bay Area Economic Institute had it right last month when he started off a workshop on future Tri-Valley workforce needs by observing that “the project is projecting 20 years out at a time when it’s nearly impossible to project 20 days out.”

Bellisario heads the institute that is working with the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Council to develop a vision for 2040 for the Tri-Valley. The virtual workshop featured three panels—employers, educators and five local graduates now enrolled in universities.

One telling feature of the college student panels was the importance they placed on working experiences they had had when in high school. For two, it was through the Regional Occupation Program, while Arman Kermanizadeh, now at the Haas School of Business at Cal, it was through an internship program. He cited the soft skills he learned through that as critical in helping him land a summer internship at Amazon Web Services.

Armaan Sengupta, now at Harvard although his classes this semester are at the MIT Sloan School of Management, cited his customer-facing work experience at Chipotle and Chick-fil-A with establishing life skills like hard work, team work, the value of money and time management. He came through the highly regarded engineering academy at Dublin High, but also noted how valuable it was to take four years of Spanish to broaden his communication skills.

Nicole Zhang, a junior at Harvard, cited her opportunities to collaborate with other students at Amador Valley, both as part of a class and then outside the classroom, as preparing her well for college. She did note that one thing that should be taught is how to write effective emails.

The employer panel included Beth McCormick, an engineer from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, who now is the director of strategic workforce development at the lab. One of her suggestions to the educators was to integrate programming into all academic programs because database management is going to be part of most jobs.

Grant Weinberg, a native of South Africa who came to the valley to run human resources for Dublin-based Trinet, said he was launching a program using artificial intelligence to mask the identity of the person applying for a job so recruiters would evaluate it without injecting the bias of name into it.
Jyoti Sarin, leader of public engineering worldwide for Amazon Web Services, has lived in the valley for the last 12 years and raised her kids here. Her suggestion is that the automation trend is going to continue and accelerate. What she will be looking for is workers who are creators who can think and innovate. Big data will play a major role in that.

Julie Duncan, who heads up the Tri-Valley Regional Occupation Program, noted that they had received a grant to increase the connection with business so students can have work-based experiences. For their annual college and job fair, they went virtual and it allowed many more students to access the experience by taking it from one night to three. Going virtual also eliminated transportation challenges.

The workshop is part of a series of virtual events the institute has held to gather information. Innovation Tri-Valley would like your opinion on education, transportation and other issues before Nov. 14. You can visit the website and fill out a variety of short surveys to share your thoughts.