1. CTE Highlights:
CTE Web Redesign
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2. Faculty Conferences
and Learning Opportunities
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3. Faculty Honors
and Awards
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4. Student Accomplishments
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5. Articles of Interest for
Faculty and Staff:
• Where are the Jobs?
by Chuck Robbins
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• Revised Credit by Exam
Supports HS/SRJC Articulation.
by Eve Nighswonger
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6. Career Expo & Job Fair
Helps Your Students
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7. Shone Farm Winery
by Chris Wills
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8. On Web 2.0
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Articles/Resources on
Green Technology and Sustainability

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9. CTEA/VTEA Funds:
2010/2011
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10. EcoLearning
• Bread Baking Engine
by Ed Ristad
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• Water Resources Techs
In Demand
by Debra Sands-Miller
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Articles of Interest

IF YOU FIND WORK

by Chuck Robbins, Director, Economic and Workforce Development

The recent recession has been deep and difficult in the United States; the recovery will be long and difficult. That seems to be the cheery assessment of many economists. The recession was the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression: it caused the stock market to lose one-third of its value in a year and drove unemployment to the highest levels since the 1980s. The economy has lost more than 8 million jobs since the recession began in December 2007.
—KCBS.com, January 8, 2010

Few observers seem to doubt that the U.S. economy will recover, but few also agree upon the strength of the recovery: Some predict a double-dip downturn, in which the economy falls back into recession because of anemic economic activity and job creation, while others see relatively healthy activity again in the U.S. by the end of the year.

As most of us know—and experience daily as we wrestle with SRJC's budget changes—California has its own problems that compound the national ills. And our students, enrolled at SRJC to gain skills for work and transfer, face their individual challenges in making course and career selections: What jobs will provide the best economic opportunities for them and where are those jobs to be found?

Information about both current economic conditions and the rapidly changing job market is readily available—the trick for SRJC students is to make sense of the conflicting facts and contradictory predictions. Following is information that may provide some help. In reading through this information, please note that economic conditions in the global economy can change very fast, so a prediction made even a few short months ago may be nullified by global financial forces.

Let's start with Sonoma County. In October 2009, the Sonoma County Economic Development Board produced its Local Economic Report, Fall 2009, for the county. Their conclusions:

1 Sonoma County's wine-producing industries face a challenging outlook.
2 The falling number of visitors has limited the near-term outlook for tourism. Employment in the entertainment, leisure, and hospitality industries is projected to fall by 9‰ from its 2008 peak through the middle of 2010nearly twice the rate for California and the U.S.
3 Sonoma County economic conditions will improve, with a stronger recovery in the early years of the coming decade than is expected nationally.

So, the prediction is that Sonoma County's economy will eventually turn around, driven by “improved housing affordability, a rebound in U.S. investment spending that supports tech-producing industries, and improved growth nationwide that rejuvenates demand for higher-end wine and supports tourism.“

And California? Time online, October 23, 2009, featured an article with an interesting title: “Despite its Woes, California's Dream Still Lives.” The author points out that, “In 2008, California's wipeout economy attracted more venture capital than the rest of the nation combined. Somehow its supposedly hostile business climate has nurtured Google, Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Cisco, Intel, eBay, YouTube, MySpace, the Gap and countless other companies that drive the way we live.“

The Time online piece goes on to extol the dynamism of the state, citing its Gold Rush roots and its continuously evolving business and social structures. Today's SRJC students might note that the Time's piece predicts that the next boom in the state will be clean technology. The state attracts $3 of every $5 invested nationwide in clean tech.

The Time online authors also note:

In any case, California is not imploding, which ought to be heartening to Americans regardless of ideology or geography. Because America is essentially the land of the Etch A Sketch, and California is America but more so, beckoning dreamers who want to cook Korean tacos or convert fuel tanks into hot tubs. It is progressive more in the literal than in the political sense of the word. And it's where America is going: a greener, more advanced and more global economy; a browner and more metropolitan population; and, yes, some staggering debts and other governance problems that need to be resolved. It is expensive and crowded—because people still want to be there!—and it's recovering from an economic earthquake. But it continues to have a powerful claim on the future. “In the depths of the breakdown, you can see the next narrative, says Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution's metropolitan policy program. “It's California. The next economy is already in place there, and it's amazing.“

Stephen Levy, Director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy, writing in late 2009, points out that “Venture capital funding in the United States and California is largely focused on clean energy technology from designing more efficient batteries to the expansion of wind and solar power and other applications of technology and innovation to reduce our use of carbon-based fuels and energy.“

In assessing the job creation potential of green technology, Levy says,

The nation's long and deep recession has fueled great interest in the job-creating potential of “going green.” The potential to create exciting job opportunities does exist, but it is important to avoid shifting focus from green activities to green jobs. Green activities will create green jobs only to the extent that the green activities make economic and environmental sense.

There are two important cautions about expecting green job growth to be a major cure for the nation's or state's economic challenges. First, many green activities and jobs replace other activities and jobs . . . it is important to remember that not every green job represents job growth. . . The second caution is that there are many skilled workers who are unemployed. California has 2.2 million unemployed workers, nearly 1 million more than a year ago. The state has seen a decline of 400,000 jobs in construction and manufacturing in the past two years. As a result, it is likely that the first beneficiaries of green job growth will be workers who are currently unemployed.

To reinforce some of the ideas presented earlier, here is a note from “The 2010–11 Budget: California Fiscal Outlook,“ published in November 2009 by the California Legislative Analyst's Office:

Consistent with legislative action in 2009 to eliminate most automatic cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for state programs, our forecast assumes no COLA and no salary increases for state employees through 2014-15. Furthermore, under our forecast that assumes school funding at the minimum guarantee level for Proposition 98, districts will be affected by the loss of billions of dollars of temporary federal stimulus funding over the next two years. Even in this stringent scenario, we forecast that operating deficits after 2010-11 will be around $20 billion each year. The forecasted gap between revenues and expenditures is the greatest—$23 billion—in 2012-13 (the year when the state must pay back its loan from local governments pursuant to Proposition A of 2004).

At the local level, predictions about the economy become questions about finding a job. As individuals begin their studies at SRJC, they need to assess their personal interests as well as their prospects for long-term, rewarding employment. Again, observers are mixed in their assessments, but the general tenor of the times is well expressed in a recent article on KCBS.com (November 10, 2009): “Unemployment likely will remain high for the next several years because the economic recovery won't be strong enough to spur robust hiring, Federal Reserve officials warned Tuesday . . . One Federal Reserve president said, ' . . . very slow net job gains‘ may occur, ‘sometime next year.’“

The value of a bachelor's degree to job seekers is generally acknowledged. Of course, even a four-year degree has not shielded many folks from layoffs; nor has the degree guaranteed economic success: By many measures, the last decade has witnessed flat or slight declines in the annual incomes of those holding bachelor's degrees. But of more importance to many students at SRJC, who do not plan to earn a four-year degree, the value of a two-year degree over a high school diploma is significant.

A recent paper by the California EDGE campaign and the Skills2Compete-California Campaign, a collation that promotes secondary education for workers not in need of a four-year diploma, laid out the economic benefits of going to school:

• In addition to having higher workforce participation rates than holders of only a high school diploma, workers with some college education averaged about 340,000 more in lifetime earnings than those with only a high school education, and adults with an associate degree averaged about $523,000 more in lifetime earnings.
• Those findings are consistent with national findings that the median worker with an associate degree earns about 33 percent more than a worker with only a high school degree, while workers with a bachelor's degree earn about 62 percent more than workers with only a high school degree.
• More education is associated with lower unemployment. Nationally in July 2009, unemployment for workers with less than a high school diploma was nearly 15.4 percent. For workers with a high school diploma, it was 9.4 percent, while for those who'd completed high school plus some college, the unemployment rate was 7.9 percent.

—California's Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs
Meeting the Demands of a 21st Century Economy
Skills2Compete-California Campaign
October 2009

In early January 2010, the government published the latest employment data. According to KCBS radio (January 8, 2010), the data demonstrated that, as of December 2009, the American economy had suffered twenty-four straight months of job loss and unemployment nationwide is 10 percent (California's unemployment rate is closer to 12 percent).

Equally uplifting, many economists expect national unemployment to hover near 10 percent for 2010: “The report is certainly a disappointment and shows that there is going to be some difficulty in making the transition to move from the end of firing to actual hiring,” said Julia Coronado, senior United States economist at BNP Paribas. “Eventually we will see some job growth, but there are a lot of weak patches still in the economy.”—NYTimes.com, January 9, 2010

In selecting a course of study—and career—students might keep in mind that in the course of pursuing a four-year degree—or even an associate's degree—much of what they learn will be out-date by the time they graduate. In an increasingly dynamic and global economy, workers must be adept at re-inventing themselves and refreshing their skill sets to meet the demands of the changing workplace.

Careercast, a job search and information portal, has ranked 200 jobs from best to worst for 2010. The company's web site describes in detail their ranking criteria and the jobs:
http://www.careercast.com/jobs/

The 10 best jobs:

1. Actuary
2. Software engineer
3. Computer systems analyst
4. Biologist
5. Historian
6. Mathematician
7. Paralegal assistant
8. Statistician
9. Accountant
10. Dental hygienist

The 10 worst jobs:

1. Roustabout
2. Lumberjack
3. Iron worker
4. Dairy farmer
5. Welder
6. Garbage collector
7. Taxi driver
8. Construction worker (laborer)
9. Meter reader
10. Mail carrier

Not to be outdone, Hotjobs.yahoo.com listed its choice for “Newest Professions, Growing Salaries.” Their introductory comments reveal, “The latest directory of job titles from Occupational Information Network (http://www.onetcenter.org/) features a variety of new entries that many people have never heard before.“

—Hotjobs.yahoo.com , October 12, 2009

Green Energy
• Wind farm engineers
• Solar thermal technicians

Health Care
• Informatics nurse specialist
• Anesthesiologist Assistant

Business and Management
• Business continuity planner
• Spa manager Education
• Distance learning coordinator

Entertainment and Media
• Video game designer
• User experience designer
• Entry-level blogger
• Director of social media
• Social media manager

Of particular relevance to community college educators and students, California's Forgotten Middle-Skill Jobs: Meeting the Demands of a 21st-Century Economy provides detailed information about the California job market and skills required for the state's economy to improve. The Workforce Alliance of Washington, D.C., wrote the paper as part of its national Skills2Compete Campaign (www.Skills2Compete.org). The paper is detailed and informative:

• Middle-skill occupations are defined as requiring more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. The term middle-skill refers to the level of education required by a particular job. It should not be confused with the actual competence and capacity of workers and occupations—many middle-skill occupations require highly skilled trade and technical workers with several years of training and on-the-job experience.
• In California, middle-skill jobs represent the largest share of jobs—some 49 percent—and the largest share of future job openings. Middle-skill jobs make up the largest segment of jobs in the U.S. economy, and will continue to do so for years to come. These are jobs in construction, manufacturing, transportation, warehousing, public safety, and health care.
• Fifty-eight percent of the people who will be in California's workforce in the year 2020 were already working adults in 2005—long past the traditional high school-to-college pipeline.
• We must also make investments to improve the basic skills of our low-wage workers and those with barriers to employment.
• Regional research supports the connection between many middle-skill jobs and good wages. Many middle-skill jobs offer median earnings that exceed the 2008 California overall median of $36,440. Many of these jobs also require highly technical skills and years of training and on-the-job experience.

And finally, some words of wisdom about the economy, the stimulus bill, and your tax dollars:

"In a stunning announcement, Citigroup showed a profit and had its best quarter since 2007. They made $8 billion in profit. That just goes to show you, you give a company $45 billion in government bailout money, and they'll show you how to turn it into $8 billion. See this is capitalism!“ — Jay Leno

"AIG, which already received $170 billion in taxpayers' money, paid $165 million in bonuses. But they say the bonuses are justified because the company made an extra $170 billion last year.“—Jay Leno

“Concerned over reports the economy could rebound on its own, both houses of Congress passed legislation that prohibits the economy from recovering until Congress can pass legislation to revitalize the economy, SatireWire reports.“

As always, please contact with questions or suggestions.
Chuck Robbins, Director, Economic and Workforce Development